Tide must turn
The local impacts are nothing short of the devastation of an island economy. Cumbrae has around 1,200 inhabitants. The 30-plus high-quality jobs at risk at UMBSM represents the equivalent of 4,000 jobs on the more populous mainland.
Clearly, job losses on such a scale are a local tragedy and would also be felt across North Ayrshire more generally.
The national impacts are just as important: UMSBM is a long established and highly prestigious institution and its closure would bring reputational damage to the area and to the Scottish education sector.
It is also difficult to reconcile the closure of a viable marine research facility in an age of global warming and the obvious and growing need for marine research on the effects on our ocean environment.
Add to that Cumbrae’s strengths, with its long history of research and teaching and a unique variety of marine sites on the students’ doorstep, and it makes no sense in the long term to allow the destruction of such a nationally and internationally potentially valuable asset.
The problems that UMSBM faces are short term and temporary.
The necessary capital investment of around £10 million and the effort to match the facility with a suitable academic partner, while not negligible, are not especially daunting either at the level of government resources.
What is required is the good will, from politicians and academic institutions, to face and solve these difficulties.
If USBSM was to close forever because of such short term problems, it will leave a stain on the reputation of Scottish education, a gap in our marine research capacity that will have to be filled and an economic black hole for the island of Cumbrae.
Clearly that must not be allowed to happen.
(Cllr) Alex Gallagher
North Coast & Cumbraes
North Ayrshire Council