Response to Scottish Government paper: Scotland’s Place in Europe

Universities Scotland has responded to the publication of Scotland’s Place in Europe, the Scottish Government’s position following the result of the EU referendum, as released earlier today.

Commenting on the paper, Professor Andrea Nolan, Convener of Universities Scotland and Principal of Edinburgh Napier University said:

“Higher education transcends borders. Our relationships with Europe, European universities and other European institutions remain very important to us. Since the Brexit vote we have been clear that our priority is to work with all Governments and stakeholders to ensure those relationships are preserved.

“We welcome publication of this document as a clear record of the Scottish Government’s priorities and intentions in regards to the European Union. There are aspects of Scotland’s interests, as identified by the Scottish Government, that we strongly identify with including economic interest, solidarity and influence. We welcome the pragmatism in the Scottish Government’s approach and echo the call for all sides to use ‘imagination and flexibility’ in these unprecedented negotiations.

“The Scottish Government’s paper clearly sets out the importance of Scotland’s higher education sector’s relationships with Europe. Our priorities in the negotiations relate to the continued free movement of student and staff talent, and access to and influence over European research funds and collaborations. It is helpful to see these so clearly identified as one of the many priorities of the Scottish Government in this document. We urge the Scottish and UK Governments to find a way forward that supports universities as a welcoming space and a constructive partner for our European friends. ”



Universities Scotland’s priorities from Brexit negotiations:

  • Maintain the closest possible relationship with our European neighbours.
  • Secure urgent confirmation on the immigration status of our existing community of over 20,000 EU students and 4,595 EU staff after the UK exits the EU. We see no reason this should wait until negotiations.
  • Develop options for the mobility of EU and non-EU talent to continue after Brexit. This applies to staff and students and refers to inward/outward mobility. This supports the sector’s world-class impact; its significant export earnings; and its role as one of the major routes to the UK’s global ‘soft power’ relationships.
  • Remain part of the European Research Area and its constituent programmes for research and innovation through a bespoke arrangement. Access to the networks and collaborations offered by the EU is as important as access to funding.
  • Secure continued access, on current terms, to Horizon 2020 until the end of the programme
  • Continued influence of the strategic direction that informs EU research grants is in the UK’s best interests.
  • Ensure the needs of UK research and Higher Education are fully taken into account in exit negotiations.