Delegation to make a stand against impact of Brexit

Minister takes Scotland's case to Brussels on eve of Westminster Brexit vote.

Leading figures in education, research and science are taking the message to Brussels that Scotland’s universities remain open and welcoming.

Minister for Higher Education and Science Richard Lochhead will lead the Scottish delegation. The team will meet with EU partners and make the case that strong collaboration with researchers in EU countries and the rest of the world is hugely important for the future.  

The Minister will underline that Scotland will continue to welcome EU citizens to study or work in our universities.  

Universities Scotland estimate Scotland’s universities are worth £11 billion gross to the economy. Scotland’s researchers and businesses are highly competitive when it comes to winning EU research and innovation funding from Horizon 2020 and other programmes.  

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Lochhead said:

“Scotland’s global reputation for ground-breaking research and innovation faces unprecedented risks.

“The message we are taking is simple: Scotland’s universities and research institutions are open and welcoming, and we maintain a strong commitment to research collaboration across Europe.

“The Scottish research community is standing together. We know that Scotland’s research has been strengthened by EU citizens working in Scotland, our membership of the European Union and our active participation in the Horizon 2020 programme. The benefits that such participation has provided cannot be underestimated and we will not stand by and see these benefits eroded and obstacles erected that undermine our future.”

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland commented:

“The quality of the research and eduction Scottish higher education delivers is strengthened because of the partnerships we have across the European Union. Those relationships are deeply important to us and that remains the case whatever the outcome of the Brexit process. It’s a message we need to keep repeating so it is not lost amidst the noise and chaos going on elsewhere and that’s why it is good to be out in Brussels this week.” 


The delegation on Monday 10th December will consist of:

  • Richard Lochhead: Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science
  • Professor Sheila Rowan: Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland
  • Alastair Sim: Director, Universities Scotland
  • Professor Wayne Powell: Principal and Chief Executive, Scotland’s Rural College
  • Professor Tim Bedford: Associate Principal, University of Strathclyde
  • Dr Stuart Fancey: Director Research and Innovation, Scottish Funding Council

The Scottish Government published “Scotland’s Place in Europe: Science and Research” in November 2018 as part of the suite of papers in this series, illustrating the importance and value of research collaboration with the rest of Europe.

A joint statement was issued in the same month from colleges, universities, trade unions and the Scottish Government, setting out a united approach to protecting the college and university sectors in Scotland from the worst effects of Brexit.

Scotland has proportionally more EU staff and students than the rest of the UK:

  • Around 9% of all university students are EU domiciled
  • 27% of full time research staff are EU nationals
  • EU nationals accounted for more than 75,000 college enrolments between 2012 and 2017

On average, 10% of Scottish universities’ research income comes from the EU.

Scotland has benefited from 558 million euros from the Horizon 2020 programme and 64 million euros from the Erasmus programme.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever.

Erasmus is an EU programme for education which allows young people to study abroad, and encourages UK organisations to collaborate with international partners.  

The Scottish Government has already confirmed that eligible EU students currently studying here or starting a degree this year or next will continue to be eligible for free tuition.


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