Carol Monaghan MP: Budget must end ‘uncertainties and anxieties’ on EU HE funding

SNP education spokesperson at Westminster, Carol Monaghan MP has said the Budget statement must be the occasion for the UK government to end some of the ‘uncertainties already causing so much anxiety‘ in the higher education sector in Scotland as a direct result of the threatened Tory hard Brexit.

Carol Monaghan MP has urged the Chancellor to use his statement tomorrow (Wednesday) to outline how he plans to match the funding that may disappear if the UK leaves the European Union as the Tories plan, which will threaten the hard won and world-class reputation for research and innovation in the Scottish higher education sector.

Carol Monaghan MP said:

“Scotland’s higher education institutions (HEIs) benefit immensely from EU funding programmes but how much longer that continues is in the hands of the Tories – and that is a huge worry. The Chancellor must make clear in his Budget how the UK government is going to match that threatened funding.  Not to do so will just prolong the uncertainties already causing so much anxiety in the sector all  because the Tories have got us all into an utter hard Brexit mess and don’t have any kind of plan.

“The Tory Hard Brexit threatens Scotland disproportionately  – with its world class research and innovation at higher education level potentially taking a big hit. Through ’Horizon 2020’ – the EU research programme – Scottish HEIs secured over 217 million Euros.

“As of September 2015, the Top 10 beneficiaries of the European Commission’s financial contribution granted through Horizon 2020 in the UK included the University of Edinburgh (£31.5 million) and the University of Glasgow (£20.1 million) and that funding through Horizon 2020 is vital for attracting people with skills and talent, and keeping our research institutions at the top of the international league tables.There is precious little evidence – if any – that Philip Hammond has addressed these potentially very serious funding shortfalls, as the cliff edge of a hard Brexit moves closer.

“The Chancellor must outline what funds will be deployed to match or exceed the funding we receive through the EU -so that our research institutions remain internationally competitive, and so we don’t fall further behind other major economies in productivity and innovation.

“In addition to plugging that financial gap, there is still the plight of EU nationals – many of whom are students or on staff of HEIs in Scotland – to be cleared up. The UK Government has only offered vague and confusing messages to EU citizens without providing any guarantees as to their right to stay.

“The Tories are threatening to take the UK over the cliff edge – in this budget we must have re-assurances for our higher education sector – not to match that EU funding will be another act of Tory vandalism and it would be completely unacceptable.’’