Revealed: Manifesto to maximise growth and opportunities

Universities Scotland, which represents 19 universities and higher education institutions across Scotland reveal their manifesto asks in anticipation of the UK General Election. The manifesto asks the next UK government to make policy and funding decisions in ways that maximise the positive economic and social impact Scotland delivers as part of the UK.

Higher education is largely devolved to Scotland, but some key areas of policy and funding remain reserved to Westminster. As a consequence, the UK General Election is highly relevant to the strategic interests of Scotland’s universities. The manifesto focuses on two key areas. These are:

Supporting growth through talent attraction and retention

  • Scotland’s universities are asking the next UK Government to retain the Graduate Route visa as an internationally competitive post study work offer for those choosing to study here.
  • Introduce regionally differentiated immigration policy within the UK to address Scotland’s need to attract and retain more international talent in a way that better responds to Scotland’s skills needs and the demographic challenges of an ageing population.

International students contribute significantly to Scotland, culturally, socially and economically, with an annual economic impact estimated at £4.75 billion.

Supporting growth through research and innovation

Scotland’s universities are asking the next UK Government to:

  • Commit to ten-year plans for investment in research and development.
  • Ensure that the governance structures and funding methodologies used by UK research and innovation bodies are fully reflective of Scottish difference in the higher education and business landscape.
  • expand the Regional Innovation Fund should be a priority for the next UK government.

With an enviable track record of developing research into commercial opportunities, Scotland is the most successful part of the UK for spin-out company formation and creates new companies at a rate second only to the golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London.

Universities Scotland Convener, Professor Iain Gillespie said:

“Scotland’s universities and higher education institutions are world leading, and a major asset to the continued success of the UK economy. As the strongest performing region for attracting foreign investment in the UK, outside of London, Scotland contributes up to £11 billion to the UK economy every year. Several of our manifesto asks are cost-neutral to Government but have the potential to accelerate the economic leverage that universities can have, creating jobs and bringing growth to Scotland and the UK more generally.

“Underpinning our ask of the next UK Government is the need for UK policy and funding decisions to be made with a sensitivity to Scotland’s context so that universities can maximise the contribution we make. The upcoming General Election is an opportunity for the major UK parties to show how much they value Scotland, and the higher education sector, as a catalyst for growth.”

Universities Scotland Director, Claire McPherson said:

“Universities have a vital role to play in Scotland’s social, cultural and economic future. Our Manifesto aims to show the value of investment in the HE sector, through a regional approach to immigration policy, and adaptations to research and development policy and structures that level the playing field for Scotland to thrive. The next UK government must commit to recognising Scotland’s unique needs for the continued success of our universities and higher education institutions.”