Foreign funds essential for research

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The letter (5 July) from members of the “Academics for Yes” campaign failed to address the fundamental issue which Professor Paul Nurse and others raised for scientific and medical research. That is not surprising.

The organisers of this campaign, illustrious though they may be in their own fields, are not in departments in which this is a critical issue. As a biologist for 34 years in the University of Edinburgh my sources of research funding came from the UK and Europe; my more medically qualified compatriots depended heavily on UK medical charities. I couldn’t get a sheet of paper without a grant to fund it.

With independence, these sources simply disappear, although Europe might return some many years in the future, but there is no certainty of that either.

The recent survey of 50 independent economists found only one that thought an independent Scotland might be better off. The others quoted exposure to weaker tax revenues from depleted oil reserves, its ageing demographic profile, potentially higher borrowing costs and uncertainties about EU membership, as well as currency problems.

University funding will hardly be a priority when the bills come in. The consequence is obvious: the brightest and best will simply and rapidly disappear south or to other countries such as the US or Germany where funding and research excitement will be retained.

Edinburgh, the only Scottish university that currently rates in any of the top categories on reputation, publication and research will simply sink into slow decline. Is this what Scotland wants?

(Prof) Tony Trewavas FRS FRSE

Scientific Alliance 
Scotland

North St David Street

Edinburgh