STEM research at risk, academics tell Parliament committee

Liberal Democrat Scotland spokesperson and Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine has today warned of the impact of Brexit on teaching at Scottish universities, as academics giving evidence to a Westminster committee confirmed STEM subjects such as Engineering and Technology would be the most heavily affected by a loss of EU staff.

Convener of Universities Scotland, Professor Andrea Nolan confirmed the key role played by EU staff in disciplines such as Engineering and Mathematics and in response to a question from Ms Jardine, warned that teaching and research in STEM subjects is the most likely to be affected by Brexit.

Speaking after the committee, Ms Jardine said:

"Our universities and colleges rely on their ability to recruit talented staff. Today some of Scotland's most prominent academics gave a clear warning that Brexit poses a huge threat. What’s more the impact will be greatest in the very STEM subjects that we are seeking to promote.

"This will not just hit our colleges and universities but also the industries that rely on a highly educated workforce to thrive. Today's evidence comes on the heels of warnings from the Chair of the Russell Group, Professor Anton Muscatelli, that senior professors are giving Brexit Britain the cold shoulder. 

"By not being honest about immigration and the key role it plays in our higher and further education sectors, Conservatives are cutting off their nose to spite their face. Liberal Democrats recognise the enormous contribution that EU academics and students make to our universities and will continue to fight for the rights of EU citizens to live and work here." 

The Scottish Affairs Committee was hearing from Professor Andrea Nolan, Convener of Universities Scotland, Andrew Witty, Colleges Scotland and Annette Bruton, principal of Edinburgh College.

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