Scottish Academics Relieved Over Research Funding After ‘No’ Vote

A poll of 1,000 Scottish academics showed that 55% were planning to vote No on independence, with 42% in favor — meaning that over half of those polled counted a win as Scotland retained its union with Great Britain.

The largest portion of the academic No vote came from science educators who were afraid they would lose the UK-wide grants which fund their research.  Primary and secondary education would have been largely unaffected by the vote.

Because the media and mainstream politicians pushed an ominous prediction that independence would be bad for business and could lead to unstable currency, many in Scotland took those warnings to heart.  The main UK political parties promised that a No vote meant Scotland would have more powers to tax and spend; rights to run a free healthcare service; and that Scotland would continue getting subsidized by the rest of the UK, says Paul Mason of Mashable.

When Tony Blair took office, his government established a separate Scottish Parliament and returned authority of a number of matters over to the Scottish government — ‘devolution’ –including health, education, and housing.  Most of the funding in these areas are governed by a budget set in London, according to Matthew Yglesias of Vox.  Scotland has almost no ability to raise extra tax revenue and it has no ability to borrow, which means that even though it has its own flag and a World Cup Team, it has no more UK governing power than one of the United States’ 50 states.

After an ill-conceived notion in the 1700s to start a Scottish colony in what is now Panama ended in failure, the country agreed to an offer of a union with England.  As part of the union, Scotland was permitted to have tariff-free trade with all of England and its colonies.  Scotland, as a result, went through a period of explosive growth, writes Don Pittis of CBC News Canada, which resulted in Scotland’s development of a highly-regarded university system and a long-standing respect for education.

Some have said the fanatical Presbyterians, who thought everyone should read the Bible for themselves, aided the push for general literacy.  When expanding British commerce needed high-quality, literate and numerate people to run their empire, Scots were there to fill the bill.

And, in Scotland itself the level of education and growing wealth resulted in the Scottish Enlightenment, a dramatic growth of the arts, sciences, and philosophy. Economist Adam Smith was one of many bright stars of that time whose bright innovations were transported to all parts of the British Empire and then to the entire world.

John Morgan, writing for Times Higher Education, reports that last week Scottish voters decided to remain part of the United Kingdom, and many of Scotland’s university leaders, for the most part, were relieved.  Pete Downes, the convener of Universities of Scotland and principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Dundee, said…

“The university sector is proud to be rooted firmly in Scotland and to be a central part of the nation’s economic, social and cultural well being. Universities are ambitious for Scotland’s success under any constitutional settlement, and we intend to continue to compete amongst the world’s best for our teaching, our research and the attraction of talent.

“We do not believe in standing still, nor do we see the outcome of this referendum in those terms. We will continue to work closely with the Scottish and UK governments to secure the best possible funding and policy environment for our higher education institutions, in the interests of Scotland’s success.”

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