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RSE Council Statement on Research and the Referendum

Posted 26/06/2014

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy, today issued a statement on Research Funding and the Referendum.

The statement follows a discussion held at the RSE earlier this month, introduced by a speech from Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP.  The RSE is grateful to Mr Russell for his informative comments.

The RSE had earlier extended a similar invitation to the UK Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP, to address Fellows and we hope this will take place later next month.

A strong research base is crucial to the continued economic and societal wellbeing of Scotland, with our research sector currently punching well above its weight in terms of winning more than its population share of UK and European research funding.

Sir John Arbuthnott, President of the RSE, said: “The RSE is not taking sides, its role is to enlighten the debate by seeking the answers to key questions about the constitutional options.  We are not presuming the outcome but want to see the strength, vitality and excellence of the Scottish research base continue, whatever the result of the referendum.

“We welcome much of what Michael Russell has said – in particular that if Scotland votes for independence, the Scottish Government would seek to negotiate the continuation of a common research area across the UK.  Also that, regardless of the referendum outcome, the Scottish Government will provide sufficient funding to allow Scotland’s research base to remain internationally competitive.

“All is not clear, however, because much depends on how other key players, particularly those outwith Scotland, react.  The present uncertainty is felt by many in the research community.  We need greater clarity on what is a complex issue and we look forward to the discussion next month with David Willetts.”

Read RSE statement

Read report of speech by Michael Russell MSP and following discussion

Read press release

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