Principals join forces to ensure research voice is head post-Brexit

The Principals of the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have pledged to work together to mitigate the potential impact of Brexit on the Scottish Higher Education sector.

Their commitment to ensuring the Scotland’s world-leading research institutions can speak with the strongest voice on the European stage comes ahead of a major Scotland Europa event in Brussels.

The event was attended by Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science. Its purpose was to launch the Scottish Government’s position paper on the 9th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, from Glasgow, and Edinburgh’s Professor Peter Mathieson highlighted the immense potential at Scotland’s two leading research universities at the meeting. They set out their determination to ensure that both benefit fully from international collaborations in the aftermath of Brexit.

At the event in Scotland House on Monday 26 March 2018, Sir Anton and Professor Mathieson discussed the impact of EU Research and Innovation collaborations in Scotland - as well as highlighting some specific collaborative success stories in Scotland.

These include research being carried out at Glasgow into gravitational waves and a Europe-wide study into the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, which is being led by Edinburgh.

Commenting on the event, Sir Anton said: "It is vital that, where appropriate, we can commit to sharing the resources and pooling our efforts to ensure we are still able to benefit from European collaborations in the years to come - and that some of the world-leading collaborative work undertaken at our universities is not put at risk by Brexit.

"Having our two major research-intensive Russell Group universities working in close partnership will be vital to securing Scotland’s success in a challenging environment in the years to come - and I look forward to working with Professor Mathieson and his colleagues to boost our collective voice and ensure the best outcomes for our universities and for Scotland."

Professor Mathieson said: "I am very pleased to engage with the Scottish Government at this event to celebrate the collaborative nature of our relationship with researchers across Europe.

"Since coming to Scotland I have seen many opportunities for the University of Edinburgh to partner with others and this is an excellent example. An issue of such shared strategic significance as Brexit makes an alignment with Glasgow the right approach - one that I hope will bring vital social, economic and health benefits."
Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said:

“The continuing uncertainty around many aspects of the UK’s future relationship with Europe is an issue of considerable, and increasing, concern for Scottish universities.

“That is why I welcome the step that the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have taken to bolster their influence on the international stage and strengthen the voice of Scotland’s higher education sector.

“Scottish universities are renowned for their excellence in research and innovation. I am in Brussels to reiterate the importance that Scotland places on its research and innovation partnerships across the EU and reflect on the contribution that EU nationals make to our research and innovation community.

“It is essential that these relationships are protected after Brexit.”