UNIVERSITIES in Scotland benefit massively from being part of the United Kingdom, according to the Conservative.
Education Spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP said the institutions enjoy considerable financial advantages which would not be the case were Scotland to separate from the rest of the UK.
She pointed to statistics revealing Research Council grants and, other grants that come from the UK purse, which provide Scotland with an almost 14% share of funding, which is proportionally far more than England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Conservatives say free university education would be under threat
If Scotland were to separate, universities would be more likely to rely on state funding, meaning the annual figure – well in excess of £200 million – could be at risk.
Scottish Conservative Education Spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP said: “Current research statistics tell us that universities in Scotland – several of which are among the best in the world – receive more research funding per head than their counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland thanks to the national Research Council Grants system.
“This status would be threatened if Scotland was to separate from the rest of the UK, mainly because our universities would have to become more reliant on state funding rather than on securing lucrative private sector investment which results from cross-border collaboration and the financial and technical economies of scale this brings to the UK.
“In Scotland, we punch well above our weight in terms of the £4.4 billion UK research grants and contracts. We received £234 million from the Research Council in 2010, far higher than it would be if it were judged per head of population.
“In some areas of research, the figure is closer to 17%. This is good news because in many of the research areas in which Scotland excels, such as medicine, science, engineering and agriculture, there are particularly high costs.
“In a separate Scotland, some of these benefits would disappear which, together with the SNP’s insistence on ‘free’ higher education, would put very substantial pressures on the Scottish taxpayer.
“It is not rocket science to see how this might make Scottish universities a less secure bet when it comes to attracting new investment.”