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The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has released a report detailing how Brexit could impact Scotland’s colleges and universities.

It comes in advance of a Scottish delegation to Brussels on Monday 10 December, to discuss the importance of safeguarding Scotland’s research base and its links with European institutions.

Drawing from a range of statistics collected from the sector, the report looks at the implications leaving the European Union (EU) could have for staff and students, ongoing research collaboration between Scottish and European institutions, and funding arrangements such as money received by colleges through the European Social Fund.

Dr Stuart Fancey, SFC Director of Research and Innovation said, “Scotland’s universities and colleges are closely linked to Europe through research and funding arrangements, as well as reciprocal staffing and study opportunities. One in five members of Scottish university teaching and research staff are EU nationals, and our college sector benefits significantly from European funding.”

“Scotland’s internationally renowned research and innovation base is reliant on our ability to attract, recruit and retain internationally mobile talent. We value the contribution EU students and staff make towards the diversity of our campuses and the learning and cultural experiences of Scottish students. Scottish students have likewise taken the opportunity to study or train in Europe, with the number of applications from Scottish students for the Erasmus+ programme increasing by 50% over the last seven years.”

The report also examines funding implications, specifically around universities’ research income from EU Commission sources, and money received by colleges through European Social Fund (ESF) programmes, including 185,000 college credits (equivalent to around 11,000 students) co-funded between 2015-18.

Speaking ahead of the visit, which will be led by Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Richard Lochhead, Dr Fancey emphasised that the impacts highlighted were still subject to change until the final terms of the UK leaving the EU were known.

“No matter the result, SFC will continue our work with colleges and universities, their representative bodies, and the Scottish Government to do everything we can to safeguard Scotland’s reputation as a centre of world-leading research and a destination of choice for staff and students,” he said.

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead said:

“This report echoes what I am continuously hearing from colleges, universities, students and researchers – that the biggest threat to Scotland’s reputation for world-leading innovation right now is Brexit.

“I will take the message to Brussels on Monday that Scotland continues to welcome EU citizens to study or work here and to collaborate with our world class researchers. We will work to retain our extensive links with our European partners, and make sure there is no doubt that Scotland’s centres of academic excellence remain open and welcoming to Europe and the wider world.”