Alasdair Allan: Independence will build on our scientific legacy
AS Iain Gray asserts in his Platform piece (12 October), I have already responded to him once around the importance which the Scottish Government places on science. However, I am happy to do so again.
Scotland is a science nation. Inventors and innovators have left an incredible legacy for the future generations of such a small country.
The quality of our research remains first in the world in relation to our GDP and its impact continues to increase – only Switzerland ranks higher. The report from the Institute of Physics confirms that the fundamentals of physics, and the industries it underpins, are absolutely vital to the Scottish economy, not least our globally-significant renewables sector.
The report goes on to highlight our physics-based sectors are stronger than the rest of the UK. However, the future health of physics in Scotland depends on our young people. We are building on our continued strong academic performance by developing teacher expertise, ensuring pupils enjoy inspiring and relevant learning, and raising awareness of the career options available.
For several years now we have also supported the Institute of Physics’ Lab in a Lorry project which gives thousands of young people hands-on experiences they are simply not able to have in the classroom.
We are serious about fostering a new generation of women in science and announced £250,000 to encourage more into the technology sector via Careerwise Scotland and support those already in it.
And on the subject of future research in Scotland, our universities will receive over £300 million from Scottish Funding Council for Research and Knowledge Exchange activities this year. This would be unaffected by constitutional change, as would our inward investment from the European Union.
We are fully committed to maintaining our international research excellence and will work with all parties to ensure continuity in research funding for our world class universities beyond 2014. To suggest that Scotland will cease to “do science” after that point is incorrect.
• Alasdair Allan is minister for learning, science and Scotland’s languages.
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