Scottish Parliament illuminated at night
'Scotia’s darling seat'. The Scottish Parliament illuminated at night. Photo ©

2005 Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.

January 2018

Communications and External Relations Manager Jordan Ogg presents an overview of recent research on the potential future of international education in Scotland.

You wait for one bus and three come along at once, say the commuters idling in the January smirr on Waverley Bridge. The same logic applies to research on the UK’s future after it leaves the EU, in particular the possible effects on Scotland. In recent weeks there has been so many new reports coming out it has been hard to keep up. 

We learned from the Higher Education Policy Institute that international students generate a net £1.94 billion for the Scottish economy. In a welcome example of a geographically comprehensive report covering the whole of the UK, we see how on a constituency level Glasgow Central benefits from a net impact of £135m, while rural areas such and Ross, Skye and Lochaber are better off by some £6.9m. It is also good to see the wider social and cultural value of international students’ contribution to life in the UK receiving due attention. 

This point is echoed by the Scottish Government’s new report Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment. Widely trailed, this Scottish Government study offers an economic impact analysis of three potential (or hypothetical depending on your political stripes) Brexit outcomes: staying in the single market, negotiating a basic free trade deal, or reverting to World Trade Organization terms. It is worth noting the scope of the research and the way it is presented. Erasmus +, for example, is highlighted for its importance as having “played a significant role in broadening the educational experience, developing cultural awareness and increasing employment prospects for Scottish students”, a sentiment noted in a recent appearance at the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Committee by British Council Scotland Director, Jackie Killeen.

Continuing on the theme of international education, Scotland’s national academy for the arts and sciences, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), has interesting new insights to digest. In a response to the joint Future Partnership Project between the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society, the authors highlight how the UK needs to continue to attract and retain talented individuals at all levels of the higher education and research system. To do so, the RSE says the country should adopt more flexible migration policies to enable the mobility of researchers and students to and from the UK after Brexit. Failure to do so could risk damaging the UK’s leading position in research, as well as its international competitiveness. Notably, Eramsus+ is regarded as being “extremely important in strengthening the UK’s research base” and “the UK on its own cannot replicate the scale and opportunities offered by EU programmes like Horizon 2020.” 

Taken together, these reports offer rich insights for anyone interested in Scotland and the UK’s connections with Europe and indeed the wider world, particularly in regard to education and mobility. 

Jordan Ogg, Communications and External Relations Manager, British Council Scotland

See also