Research and development is an area in which the EU and member states cooperate in order to develop a more effective policy. Scottish universities, which have been a source of national pride for centuries, have flourished in this framework.
As with other types of EU funding, potentially Scotland could ‘buy in’ to Horizon 2020 as Norway does but this is expensive, inefficient and it is much more effective to simply be in the EU.
Since January 2014 Scottish universities successfully secured over €110 million from the EU funded Horizon 2020 research programme. Between 2007 and 2014, Scottish organisations secured €572 million to support Scotland’s world leading science.
These are achievements that we can continue to replicate or expand in the future.
Access to such funding is clearly of major benefit and encourages international collaboration which would not be as effective if Scotland is to pullet out of the EU.
The Erasmus Student Exchange Programme is one of the most high profile examples of the success of open EU borders, and one in which Scotland is heavily involved.
1,600 students from Scottish higher education institutions participated in Erasmus students between 2014 and 2015 which is a 50 per cent rise over the seven years since 2007/2008.
The programme provides the opportunity for young Scots to study for part of their degree elsewhere in Europe. This provides experience of other cultures and also develops crucial language skills. These are becoming increasingly desirable in the interconnected modern world. Such experience is well above the level that would be expected considering the size of the Scottish higher education sector and shows just how many Scots have taken advantage of what the EU can offer them.
This process is two-way and Scottish Universities rely on European academics to remain world leading. At the moment 23% of all research staff are from the EU. After the result we must ensure these academics remain welcome in Scotland.