Convener’s hopes for 2018

Our Convener, Professor Andrea Nolan shares her hopes for 2018 in our first blog of the year.

Happy New Year from me and everyone at Universities Scotland. In lieu of New Year’s Resolutions, I thought there was some merit in sharing my hopes for 2018.

The year will, much like last year, have Brexit looming large in both the background and foreground. There still remains a great deal of uncertainty. Not just for the higher education sector, but others too.

I hope 2018 will bring some much needed clarity for the sector. Not just for our institutions, but for staff and students. Our three top priorities through the Brexit process have not changed: we want to see the maximum amount of mobility for staff and students; we want UK universities to be leading in the successor to Horizon 2020 and we want to see the status of the Erasmus+ programme secured as quickly as possible.

The uncertainty around Brexit does have a human impact. We will continue to push the UK Government for greater flexibility on immigration. But it’s also crucial that we remember that we have a world-leading sector that many people from around the world want to be a part of. Whether they are students or staff my message remains the same: You are welcome. You will always be welcome. Internationalism is the lifeblood of Scottish universities; ground-breaking research knows no boundaries. You will find Scotland and its people to be inclusive and friendly; we want more students and staff from around the world to study, work and live in Scotland and be a part of and contribute to our country’s journey.

One of the first issues in the New Year will see the Scottish Government’s Budget pass through Parliament. From my perspective, December’s Spending Review from the Scottish Government was welcome, especially in the fiscal circumstances. It puts the sector back on track towards sustainable funding levels. We are looking forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure that every student achieves their full potential and that we as a sector continue to make an ongoing contribution to Scotland’s economic success.

I hope you have all had a restful Christmas and I hope everyone has a fantastic 2018.