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Scotland's Future

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Chapter 5 Education, Skills and Development

  • This Government plans a transformation in childcare provision for every child between age one and school age. By the end of the first independent Scottish Parliament all three and four years olds, and vulnerable two years olds, will be entitled to childcare equivalent to the time spent at primary school
  • With independence benefits, taxes and employment services will work with the education system in raising attainment amongst our most disadvantaged young people
  • Access to higher education will be based on ability, not wealth; this Government will protect free tuition fees for Scottish students and continue to provide appropriate support for living costs
  • This Government will provide levels of public investment in university research that will enable our researchers and universities to remain internationally competitive
  • Education and employment rights could be made part of the written constitution of an independent Scotland, including a youth guarantee to employment, education or training

Why we need a new approach

Education represents an investment, not just in our children, but in our culture, society and economy. Quality education helps young people be successful learners and grow into confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society. A highly skilled population leads to higher wages, better jobs and economic growth, and benefits the health and wellbeing of each of us. Investment in the people of Scotland through excellent education and high skills greatly enhances our likelihood of employment.

However making this a reality for each and every one of our young people is the work of more than just our nurseries, schools, colleges and universities.

A child in poverty is a child that has yet one more barrier to learning. A child whose home life is chaotic, or who is hungry, cannot do their best. And a child who worries about the future of their family, is a child who is distracted from fulfilling their potential.

This simple reality has seen generations suffer the lack of equality of attainment in our schools. Pupils from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of areas leave school with significantly lower qualifications than those in the most affluent 20 per cent. That gap is greater than most of the developed nations against which we measure ourselves[215].

The main tools for tackling poverty - and for tackling the attainment gap - lie in the tax and benefits system and employment services. All need to play their part in a coherent system that delivers for children, allows parents to work, and boosts family income.

Currently these critical powers are under the control of Westminster, which is not using those tools to tackle poverty or promote work in Scotland - but to cut welfare. Over the five years to 2015, these cuts will potentially remove over £4.5 billion from Scottish households, £1 billion of it affecting children directly[216]. Indeed a further 15,000 Scottish children will be pushed into poverty as a result of just one of those welfare cuts - capping the rise in working-age benefits[217].

Poverty plays a huge role in attainment. We need to join up our action to improve education with our action to eradicate poverty - and to do that, Scotland needs to take control of the tax and welfare system and the powers that influence the labour market.

Social work and Scotland's approach to children in trouble or at risk is unique. Next year will mark 50 years since the landmark Kilbrandon Report that established the Children's Hearing's system; Scotland has a proud tradition of a progressive approach. We have strong social work services and dedicated staff, but the reality is that their work - and the lives of the children they are trying to help - are inevitably tied to decisions on tax and welfare taken elsewhere.

Even where we have some powers already, too often decisions taken by Westminster impact on our ability to make the progress Scotland needs.

For example, decisions by Westminster on student visas have restricted access for international students, posing a direct threat to Scotland's universities and colleges. Not only do some prospective students find it difficult to obtain a visa to come and benefit from a Scottish education, but they are unable to use this education for the benefit of Scotland by remaining after graduation and playing an active part in the economy and culture of Scotland.

As a result of this, Universities Scotland have said in relation to Westminster's visa policy that "it is hard to see a bigger risk, or a more poisonous gun pointed at our collective success"[218].

Of perhaps even greater damage is the impact on post-graduate international students. Westminster's policy ignores the needs of Scotland and the universities resulting in the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) describing it as its "biggest source of concern" in relation to Scotland's universities[219].

Independence will provide the ability for Scotland to develop our own immigration system ensuring that we benefit from the skills and enthusiasm of those highly educated people who wish to make Scotland their home.

As long as we rely on funding decisions at Westminster, we will bear the consequences of decisions that Scotland does not support. On universities, for example, the introduction of top-up fees in England substantially reduced government investment in higher education south of the border, and therefore reduced the size of Scotland's allocated budget - although universities and their funding are devolved to Scotland.

Progressive policies will tackle poverty, support jobs, and protect family incomes. Independence will give Scotland the powers to free children from poverty and enable them to meet their potential. Independence will also break the link to Westminster policies that Scotland neither wants nor needs.

The opportunities available to Scotland

Scotland has a proud tradition of commitment to excellent education for all our citizens. We have long enjoyed an international reputation as the first nation in the world to introduce a democratic system of schooling, open to both boys and girls, as early as the 17th century.

Our strengths and successes in education and employment have built on all that is best in that tradition and come from choices made in Scotland under devolution.

The pre-school sector, schools, and colleges and universities have all benefited from decisions of successive Scottish Governments, including massive expansion of nursery places, a radical overhaul of schools through the new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), reform of the college sector, free university tuition and support for Scotland's world-class universities.

Excellence and high achievement can be found throughout our education system - in our nurseries, schools, colleges and universities. Scottish education is good but we believe it can once again be great.

Nursery and childcare

Our approach begins with giving every child the best start in life. That is why we have increased the provision of pre-school places for three and four year olds. In 2007 this stood at 412.5 hours a year. We have already expanded this to 475 hours and, with our new Children's Bill currently before Parliament, this will expand to 600 hours - around 15 hours per week - from August next year.

Nursery education benefits the child but it also makes it easier for parents - particularly mothers - to work. This helps family finances, both by saving them the equivalent of up to £707 in childcare costs every year[220] and by boosting income from work, benefiting the whole family. Our new Children's Bill does not just expand the number of hours, but also gives more flexibility so that parents have more choice over how they use the nursery hours to best fit in with family life and maximise the opportunity of finding work.

With independence - and the powers over the tax and benefits system - we can go even further. We want to extend the support we give to our youngest children and their parents, to expand childcare provision and deliver additional rights and opportunities for parents, so that Scotland matches the very best in Europe.

Primary and secondary schools

The substantial investment in Scotland's schools has seen secondary school attainment levels increase year-on-year. In 2011/12, school-leaver destinations - the numbers getting a job, going on to college or university, or undertaking training such as a Modern Apprenticeship - were the best on record[221]. Building on this, 2012/13 saw the highest pass rates for Highers (77.4 per cent) and Advanced Highers (82.1 per cent)[222]. In 2012/13, 89 per cent of school leavers were in positive destinations - positive and sustained learning, training or work - the highest proportion ever[223].

This strong record of achievement means Scotland is well-placed for the next step now under way in our country's education history: Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

CfE is the radical renewal of the way Scotland's schools teach. It focuses on achieving the highest possible levels of literacy and numeracy, developing skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work. But it goes further and delivers knowledge and understanding of society, the world and Scotland's place in it. And, because education is also about who we are as a nation, it helps pupils develop well-informed views and act responsibly.

All of this comes against a background of reduced class sizes in the early years of primary school and substantial investment programmes in new school buildings, halving the number of children being taught in substandard buildings[224].

Higher and further education

Higher education is one of Scotland's major strengths with more universities in the Times Top 200 world universities per head of population than any other nation[225]. This Government has restored free access to higher education to Scottish domiciled undergraduate students, maintained the number of places available at our universities and provided additional funded places in support of widening access.

Scottish universities are internationally renowned for the quality of their research. Around half of Scotland's research has been assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent[226] and Scotland ranks third in the world (after Switzerland and the Netherlands) and ahead of all the G8 countries in terms of citations per researcher[227]. The excellence of research in Scotland's universities contributes to Scotland's international reputation for research and innovation. Investment in Research and Development (R&D) activity is a key component of driving innovation and supporting improved long-term economic performance. Currently, Scotland has over 620 organisations in the science and innovation sector employing over 30,000 staff[228]. The continued expansion of this sector, after independence, will be vital to achieving sustainable economic growth.

Scottish universities are highly attractive to overseas students[229]. In 2011/12 Scottish institutions received an income of £337 million from non-EU student course fees alone[230] as well as benefiting from the wider contribution that international students make to Scotland's economy and society, and the longer term contribution that international alumni make to extending the reach of Scottish universities overseas.

This Government's reforms to colleges reflect our ambition for the sector to realise its potential. We have created institutions that are better able to work with other learning partners, and deliver the provision that learners need to get a job, and that employers need to become more competitive - including nearly one-fifth of higher education provision in Scotland. Our colleges will lead in making real some of the ideas from the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce, in creating new partnerships between school and colleges to deliver a still broader range of vocational opportunities, further enriching the senior phase of CfE. This is supported by our funding floor for colleges of £522 million this and next year, rising to £526 million 2015/16, and by record levels of further education student support.

Employability

The education initiatives for those aged over 16 are complemented by the training opportunities provided through Skills Development Scotland, including in excess of 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship places in 2012/13. To further boost the opportunities for young people seeking to enter the labour market, Scotland is the only European country with a dedicated Youth Employment Minister, who is responsible for a range of initiatives and activities to maximize the chances of Scotland's young people.

Employment services and training for employability will be significantly improved by independence. At the moment, the financial benefits of successful employment initiatives by the Scottish Government - such as Modern Apprenticeships, Higher and Further Education funding and other training programmes - go to the Westminster Government in the form of reduced welfare payments and increased tax revenues. With independence we will retain these benefits in Scotland and can re-invest them in our people by funding more employment programmes.

The education sector has already successfully shown the potential for joining up policies across a range of areas, both in the early years, through the Early Years Collaborative, and for post 16 training and education opportunities[231]. Independence will provide the mechanisms to extend this coherent approach to government, connecting education to other services such as the benefits system and the immigration system.

Scottish policy is working for our young people, and provides a substantial foundation upon which an independent Scotland can build. Opportunities for All is our guarantee of employment, apprenticeship or training for all young people aged 16 to 19. This commitment is especially important for those who, for whatever reason, are furthest from the labour market. For many in this group our support is offered through Activity Agreements. This approach is grounded in the reality of an individual's personal circumstances and offers tailored help to move towards employment.

In an independent Scotland we will build on the success of collaborative working, with individuals of all ages, to support their journey towards and into sustainable employment. In doing so we will truly create opportunities for all. By integrating employment and skills policy and delivery, independence can ensure the most appropriate support for those looking for work and those preparing to enter or re-enter the labour market.

Improvements to the Scottish education system have been the result of extensive work within Scotland, with stakeholders, professionals and users of the services, including employers. Scottish education policy has looked around the world for inspiration and incorporated lessons from elsewhere into existing structures, building on the best in Scotland with innovations from elsewhere. This record shows how self-government in Scotland successfully delivers new and effective policies to improve society and achievement in Scotland, and provides a model and example for Scotland following independence.

The Scotland we can create

Scottish education is poised to take advantage of the powers of independence to make Scotland the best place to grow up.

Independence will provide the ability to join up policy, tackling head-on the issues that have blighted generations. We can create opportunities for the whole education system, in particular allowing us to:

  • invest in the early years of childhood by transforming the childcare system to match the best in Europe
  • integrate our approach to education with wider social policies, such as taxation and benefits, and to address the child poverty that can adversely affect the ability of young people to learn and to develop
  • focus on employment issues and a person centred approach to supporting those who want to work, with action on a living wage and the minimum wage so that more Scots get a fair reward for their hard work (see Chapter 3)
  • support our university sector, promote it internationally and encourage both academic staff and students from around the world to study and settle in Scotland and to contribute to our economy and society

Poverty causes problems for Scottish education which cannot be fixed by improvements in our schools alone, even though the CfE and the wide range of innovative work can try and limit the effects of deprivation on our children's education.

Currently Westminster controls tax, benefits and labour market policy, and Scotland controls education policy. One may undermine the other, as when changes to welfare increase child poverty.

The Scottish Government agrees with the conclusion of the OECD that "education systems don't have to choose between equity and opportunity and high performance"[232]. With independence, a welfare system aligned with our education system can address child poverty and educational under-achievement in Scotland. We believe that poverty is not, and must not be accepted as, inevitable in Scotland.

This approach is true to our proud educational heritage in Scotland. To build on this legacy, the written constitution of an independent Scotland could also enshrine the right to education for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole.

Early learning and childcare

The choices open to us

We know that investment in the early years can bring huge rewards in later life, both at an individual level, and for society as a whole. If we want to make the most of Scotland's people, our greatest asset, and support them to flourish in a vibrant society and economy, then it is essential to focus on their development at the earliest stages. Improving opportunities for young Scots, therefore, is one of the most important reasons for choosing independence.

Extensive provision of early learning and childcare for all families is a hallmark of some of the most advanced and successful countries today. There is a wide range of evidence indicating the potential benefits of high quality, funded early learning and childcare, with all social groups benefiting from high quality pre-school provision and children from the poorest families gaining most from universal provision[233].

Clearly, the principal aim of providing this support is to give children the best start in life and the greatest chance to succeed as they grow and develop into adults. However, it brings with it other important benefits for society as a whole.

Childcare has important benefits for children and it also provides a key support to participation in the labour market, particularly for women. For example, in Denmark, which has extensive childcare provision, 79 per cent of mothers with children under six work, whereas in the UK the comparable figure is 59 per cent[234]. Of mothers citing childcare as a barrier to working full-time, over 70 per cent say it is because of the costs[235]. Under the devolution settlement, the tax revenues and benefits savings arising from increased labour market participation by mothers would flow to the Westminster Government. With independence, these benefits would accrue over time to the Scottish Government, substantially bolstering the financial case for a transformational change in childcare provision.

Under the Westminster system, families in Scotland have waited too long for the provision of adequate and fair childcare provision. Independence will give us the powers to make that ambition a reality, and become a modern, successful, socially just country that cares for our most vulnerable and provides opportunities for each and every child who lives here. With independence we can develop a distinctive system, built round the needs of our children and their families.

The goal of this Scottish Government, therefore, is to deliver a transformation in the provision of high quality, early learning and childcare throughout Scotland. We are taking the first steps on that journey with the Children and Young People Bill, currently before the Parliament, introducing a significant enhancement of the early learning and childcare offered to all families. The legislation increases provision for each three and four year old and our most vulnerable two year olds to a minimum of 600 hours, up from the current 475 hours, and also introduces flexibility to meet parents' needs fully and properly.

These changes, bringing with them a required increase in capacity, and a growing skilled workforce, will be introduced without compromising on quality. Our view, however, is that only independence will allow us to unlock the resources to support a much more ambitious transformation in the care we give to our children in the first years of their lives.

Our priorities for action

Parents in the UK face some of the highest childcare costs in Europe[236]. Although these costs are currently lower in Scotland than in England - £94.35 per week compared with £106.52 for two, three and four year olds - parents in Scotland still spend around 27 per cent of household income on childcare, compared to the OECD average of 12 per cent[237].

Independence will give us the opportunity to invest more in the supply of services, rather than subsidising demand. This is the approach adopted in the most successful countries and will ensure resources are spent most effectively, and that childcare becomes more affordable.

In an independent Scotland, this Government would develop a universal system of high quality early learning and childcare for children from the age of one to when they enter school.

We will:

  • in our first budget: provide 600 hours of childcare to around half of Scotland's two year olds. Those whose parents receive working tax credit or child tax credit will benefit
  • by the end of the first Parliament: ensure that all three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds will be entitled to 1,140 hours of childcare a year (the same amount of time as children spend in primary school)
  • by the end of the second Parliament: ensure that all children from one to school age will be entitled to 1,140 hours of childcare per year

This transformational change to childcare in Scotland will allow parents, in particular women, to choose to work without worrying about the cost of looking after their children. With independence the benefits of their work - in economic growth and tax revenues - will stay in Scotland, contributing to meeting the cost of this childcare provision.

Such a transformational extension in the provision of early learning and childcare will need to be introduced on a phased basis, in a way that is manageable and sustainable. This approach will need to be managed carefully and agreed with delivery partners.

It will be essential to maintain the highest quality provision in order to support child wellbeing and development; alongside providing significant support to families and sustainable employment opportunities. The universal provision will give children an entitlement to a minimum number of hours and, as now, parents will be able to access or purchase additional hours to support working patterns.

In Scotland we already invest significant resources in early learning and childcare, equal to many of our European neighbours. However the outcomes we achieve from this investment do not match those of our most successful neighbours. We therefore plan to undertake a review of our cost structure, based on international examples, to ensure that our future investment in early learning and childcare achieves the best possible outcomes.

Capital investments will be required to build up the estate, both in terms of expansion of the current estate and new build, for stand-alone (nursery or daycare) provision to meet the needs of children before school, so that our children learn and are nurtured in high quality environments.

Investment will also be required in training and to substantially increase the workforce. The expansion of childcare will provide around 35,000 new jobs. Investment will also cover regulation, inspection and ensure the quality of expanded provision through the functions of Education Scotland, the Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Services Council.

Funded early learning and childcare will be part of a high quality universal system, with local authorities delivering and securing provision to ensure that education and quality are protected and improved. Building local authority provision, along with expansion within the third and private sectors, will contribute to the delivery of the highest quality provision.

Supporting Scotland's universities

The choices open to us

There will be major direct gains in an independent Scotland for Scotland's universities. Scotland has been an educational leader since the early part of the 15th century. It is home to some of the world's oldest and most prestigious universities as well as some of the finest specialist vocational and modern institutions.

Scotland's high quality education, research and innovation attracts scholars and researchers from across the globe, who in turn draw on their positive experiences to promote Scotland's academic opportunities and welcoming culture; a British Council survey suggests that 86 per cent of students said they would recommend the Scottish experience to others and 91 per cent said Scotland was a good place to be[238].

The Scottish Government already supports this international exchange by funding student mobility initiatives such as the Outward Mobility Fund, Erasmus and the Fulbright, Commonwealth and Saltire Scholarship schemes, which provide 200 awards of £2,000 to undergraduate and postgraduate students from China, India, and North America. Scotland is an active partner in Erasmus and the Bologna Process - which launched the European Higher Education Area in 2010 and supports student mobility across Europe. The Scottish Government also recently launched a pilot project offering funding for up to 250 Scottish domiciled students undertaking their undergraduate degree in the EU. This means for the first time Scottish students studying in Europe will be entitled to the same support with living costs as students studying at home. Independence will provide the opportunity to do even more, and will give Scotland a clear platform to engage in international arenas and a stronger voice in Europe as a full member state.

Infographic showing Scotland Welcomes more than 40,000 international students each year

The Scottish university sector is developing international relationships and promoting Scotland's commitment to educational excellence, for example through collaborative research projects and campuses based abroad. We can make the international promotion of the higher education sector in Scotland, as the educational and research destination of choice, a priority in an independent Scotland, through our own overseas diplomatic and trade network.

Our priorities for action

Free access to higher education

The university sector is one of the main drivers of the Scottish economy and ensuring a supply of trained graduates to contribute to our economy is one of its significant outputs. In 2011/12, there were 167,365 full-time students in Scottish Higher Education Institutions[239] and Scottish students accepted by our universities rose to a record number this year with 27,990 students accepted to study in 2013/14, an increase in 2 per cent compared with the same stage last year[240].

On independence, Scottish domiciled students will continue to have free access to higher education. This guarantee will save Scottish students up to £9,000 a year compared with the cost of studying in England.

Free education for those able to benefit from it is a core part of Scotland's educational tradition and the values that underpin our educational system. One of the major achievements of devolved government in Scotland has been to restore this right to Scottish domiciled undergraduate students.

In contrast, the Westminster Government has pursued an increasingly market-driven approach to higher education, increasing tuition fees for undergraduate students to up to £9,000 a year. This divergence in funding policy between Scotland and England, and resulting disparity in the cost of securing a university education, creates a huge financial incentive for students from England to study in Scotland. In that context, and to ensure Scottish students remain able to study at Scottish higher education institutions, this Government had little option but to allow Scottish institutions to set their own tuition fees for students from the rest of the UK at a rate no higher than the maximum annual tuition fee rate charged to such students by universities elsewhere in the UK.

This policy has not prevented students from the rest of the UK accessing Scottish universities. In 2012/13, the first year of the new arrangements, 4,800 students from the rest of the UK were accepted through UCAS to study at Scottish universities, an increase of 180 acceptances (4 per cent) on the previous academic year[241].

Following independence, the Scottish Government proposes to maintain the status quo by continuing our current policy of charging fees to students from the rest of the UK to study at Scottish higher education institutions.

This policy, based on residence, recognises the need to maintain the current mix of students from different parts of the UK in Scottish universities in order to ensure that Scottish domiciled students have the opportunity to study in Scotland, and that Scotland secures the graduate skills it requires, while ensuring that the universities also benefit from the contribution of students from the rest of the UK and beyond.

The Government believes that continuing to charge students from other parts of the UK is the best way to achieve this balance, recognising that there is a long history of substantial numbers of students from elsewhere in the UK coming to Scottish universities to take advantage of our high quality education, our common language and the parallel system of educational qualifications that make Scotland an attractive place for them to study. These students would pay substantial fees if studying in their own countries.

We believe that in an independent Scotland it will be possible for an objective justification for this charging regime to be established. On that basis, we consider that retention of tuition fees for students, based on residence in the rest of the UK, is an appropriate and necessary measure to ensure Scottish domiciled students continue to have access to higher education opportunities. If the Westminster Government change their policy and return to a higher education system where access to university is based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay, we would also review our charging policy.

Our policy is based on the unique and exceptional position of Scotland in relation to other parts of the UK, on the relative size of the rest of the UK, on the fee differential, on our shared land border and common language, on the qualification structure, on the quality of our university sector and on the high demand for places. We believe that these distinctive characteristics will enable us to justify objectively the continuation of our current policy in a way which is consistent with the principles of free movement across the EU as a whole and which is compatible with EU requirements.

With independence, we will continue to support access to higher education in Scotland for students from elsewhere in the EU in accordance with our support for student mobility across Europe.

Research

Higher education research in Scotland is internationally recognised and respected for its quality and its innovative and collaborative nature. The excellence of our universities and strength of the research base is reflected in Scotland's success in successfully competing for funding within the UK and internationally.

In 2011/12, Scottish universities attracted £905 million[242] in research funding from a wide range of sources, including government, business, charities and the EU.

This Government has shown our commitment to university research by increasing investment in research and knowledge exchange activities by 38 per cent since 2007 and supporting global excellence, through investment of £13.8 million in 2013/14 for world-leading research[243].

While funding is important, a strong research base also requires an environment in which research is respected and valued and where government, businesses and our universities work in partnership to grow our economy and improve our society.

This Government has been instrumental in supporting the development of such an environment - advancing novel ideas such as the internationalisation of our research pools and, more recently, the establishment of a network of innovation centres which have the potential to transform the scale and nature of university-business relationships and collaborations.

The best research operates across boundaries, be they disciplinary, institutional or nation state. We recognise and will continue to support collaborations at a range of spatial scales - continuing to participate in existing collaborations that work well while seeking to extend our global reach as an independent country.

The UK operates as a 'common research area', ensuring no barriers to collaborative research and access to facilities for researchers throughout the UK. We recognise the benefits - for the academic community, business and research charities - of maintaining long-term stability in research funding and systems that support initiatives of scale and researchers working together across boundaries. It is clearly in the interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK to maintain a common research area including shared research councils, access to facilities and peer review.

While the rest of the UK will remain an important research partner, we will also extend our global reach. Scotland can already point to notable successes in working across European boundaries with international research centres increasingly attracted to Scotland by the quality of our research base including the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Photonics - the first Fraunhofer Institute to be located in the UK - and the European Lead Factory, a Europe-wide platform for drug discovery supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative.

We want to build on these successes. Horizon 2020 - the EU's new programme for research and innovation - in particular offers a significant opportunity for Scotland's universities to build these partnerships and access the considerable research funding available[244]. We are also following with interest the wider progress of the European Research Area, with its focus on strengthening transnational co-operation and enabling researchers and scientific knowledge to circulate freely.

Our universities are already active players on the world stage extending their world-class teaching offering and forming partnerships and research collaborations across the globe. We are keen to further develop these collaborations. With independence, Scotland and our universities will be in a stronger position, as a sovereign nation state, to promote Scottish higher education overseas with a dedicated overseas diplomatic and trade network enhancing Scotland's visibility on the international stage.

Research funding

Public funding for university research in Scotland and across the UK is currently delivered by a dual support system comprising:

  • a block grant given by the funding council of each country (funded from devolved budgets) and
  • competitively awarded grants from the UK-wide Research Councils (funded through the tax base)

These two sources make up the majority of university research income. In 2011/12 Scottish universities received a third of their research income from the Scottish Funding Council and won a further quarter in competitive funding from the Research Councils and National Academies[245].

The UK and other funders benefit from the quality of the research undertaken in Scotland, our centres of excellence and infrastructure, and the lack of barriers to research collaboration. After independence this Government will seek to continue the current arrangements for a common research area and funding through established UK Research Councils, as we believe this would benefit both Scotland and the rest of the UK in supporting collaboration.

Scotland already contributes to the funding of the Research Councils through the UK tax system. With independence, we would intend to negotiate with the Westminster Government a fair funding formula for Scotland's contribution based on population share but taking reasonable account of the fact that the amount of research funding received by Scottish institutions from the Research Councils may reflect higher or lower levels of funding.

Providing a direct contribution from the Scottish Government budget in this way would create more transparency and clearer accountability around our investment, enabling Scottish interests to be better and more consistently reflected in the identification of Research Council priorities.

This Government plans to ensure that levels of public investment in university research are sufficient to enable our researchers and universities to remain internationally competitive with current levels of government investment in university research (though the Scottish Funding Council and the Research Councils) at least maintained as part of wider and longer term plans to harness increased funding from the private sector and other sources including Horizon 2020.

An independent Scotland will have the opportunity to internationally enhance the profile of our institutions, and will have new responsibilities for immigration policy, following independence, to attract leading research talent from around the world to study and settle in Scotland.