Schools Training

Universities in Scotland damaged by Westminster ‘xenophobia’

29 JAN 2014

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That is the view of Michael Russell, the Scottish education secretary in the SNP government, who outlined his opposition to UK immigration policy in a speech in Edinburgh today.

Both he and Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish secretary in the Westminster government, spoke at the conference on “Higher Education, the Devolution Settlement and the Referendum on Independence”, organised by the Economic and Social Research Council.

“The debate south of the border is being driven by Ukip and by a nasty xenophobia which certainly revolts me and I think revolts many others,” Mr Russell said, adding that overseas students were treated as “subversive” or “freeloaders” by UK policy.

He pointed to Higher Education Statistics Agency figures which “show that since the Coalition came to power the number of students from India studying at Scottish universities has halved. In 2010-11 there were 3,290 students from India. The latest figures for 2012-13 show just 1,665.

“This is daft and self-defeating.”

Making his pitch ahead of the independence referendum in September, he said it was “essential” that Scotland was able to set its own policies on migration and citizenship.

“Scotland needs to be seen as a welcoming place, open for academic and research business and more than willing to see those of talent staying if they wish to build lives and careers. That cannot happen without independence.”

He added: “If autonomy is good for higher education, might it also be good for this country?”


Read full article: Times Higher Education