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Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 1:02 pm on 22nd November 2001.

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Photo of Robin Harper Robin Harper Green 1:02 pm, 22nd November 2001

I have to declare an interest. I am the rector of the University of Edinburgh. To an extent, that circumscribes my remarks.

I was one of the first members to support Alex Neil's motion. The situation had been a matter of acute concern for some time for me before I was elected to the Parliament. Now that I am more aware of it, it continues to be a matter of concern.

I will refer to a point that was made by David Davidson. Universities find it increasingly difficult to fund blue-sky research, due to the ever-decreasing amount of money that is provided from public funds. That must be a matter of concern to universities, researchers and to the Executive. All too often, before funds are given for research to be carried out, universities have to say what the result of the research will be.

I decided that my contribution to the debate would be brief. I will conclude by asking the Executive to meet, as soon as possible, SHEFC, the AUT and representatives of the universities. That will allow a problem that has been left on the shelf for far too long to be addressed.