Safeguarding Research Collaborations and Scientific Excellence

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2018.

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Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

We seem to have been debating Brexit in the chamber and in committees for a fairly long time. However, like it or not, we still need to focus on the implications—the barriers that might spring up and the impact on reputation, which is also important.

Sadly, the impact on our universities and wider science and research communities was not carefully considered before the EU referendum vote. As in other areas, it has become increasingly clear from the work of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee and the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee—both of which I sit on—that many sectors, including the one that we are talking about today, are being seriously impacted on by Brexit. Whatever the intentions of people who voted for Brexit were, the message has gone out, and continues to go out, that the UK is isolationist and does not welcome foreigners.

Freedom of movement is probably the key factor in today’s debate; several members have mentioned it. We want students to come here and study, and we want our students to be able to go to the best institutions around the world. We want top academics and researchers to make their homes here—or, at least, to be able freely to move around the world and around universities, including our own.