Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Tavish Scott MSP today said that the failure of the UK government to guarantee the residency status of EU citizens could have a chilling effect on higher education in Scotland.
Mr Scott was speaking as new figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats revealed that nearly 6000 EU nationals are employed by universities in Scotland at present. His calls come after the Prime Minister failed to confirm that the UK government will press for full membership of the EU single market.
Edinburgh University employs 2398 EU nationals. Glasgow University has 647 members of EU staff and Aberdeen University employs 539 EU nationals. Across Scotland as a whole, 5885 EU nationals are employed in Higher Education institutions.
Commenting, Tavish Scott MSP said:
“More than a quarter of staff at Edinburgh University are from other EU states. Other universities across Scotland employ hundreds of EU nationals too. University staff from across Europe are an integral and welcome part of academic life in Scotland.
“Unless the UK government stops treating these talented people as bargaining chips and ensures we protect ties with our EU neighbours, Brexit will have a chilling impact on the future of Scotland’s higher education sector.”
“We cannot expect Scotland’s universities to lead the world unless they can access the skilled staff they need. Universities must be able to attract the brightest and best from other EU states and the failure of the UK government to guarantee the status of EU staff already working here is a huge concern.“