AN influential research body has indicated its willingness to maintain lucrative links to Scottish universities in the event of independence.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s education committee yesterday, Professor Paul Boyle, of Research Councils UK (RCUK), said the body “strongly supported” the idea of Scotland remaining part of the network, should voters back separation.
However, he noted that such an arrangement would be without international precedent and would require complex negotiations.
Scottish institutions consistently win 12 per cent or more of RCUK’s total funding, despite the country having about 8.5 per cent of the UK’s population. Doubts have previously been raised about whether Scotland’s universities could continue to access the funding should the country become independent.
Prof Boyle said: “We would like to see a strong research system continue.
“If there’s a vote for independence, there would have to be negotiations.
“I would caution that I don’t think there’s a single research council that spans more than one country, so clearly there needs to be some negotiations.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We will seek to maintain a common research area with the rest of the UK including existing shared research councils.
“The best research already operates across boundaries, be that disciplinary, institutional or geographical, with the Research Councils already regularly engaging in international collaborations.”