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Higher Education

Volume 558: debated on Wednesday 13 February 2013

7. What recent discussions he has had with representatives of universities in Scotland on the effects of UK Government policy on higher education in Scotland. (142166)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I are in regular contact with representatives of universities in Scotland on a range of issues.

I thank the Minister for his response—so far, so good. He will know how important foreign students are to our economy. He will also know how unhappy our universities are with his Government, and they have every right to be. His Tory Government’s obsession with immigration is starting to really hurt us: a 26% reduction in students from India, a 25% reduction from Pakistan and a 14% reduction from Nigeria. Surely he can agree that we could obviously do this much better in Scotland if we had control over these issues.

Not for the first time I am confused by the SNP position. On some occasions, it states that it wants to have the same immigration rules as the rest of the UK so it can be in a common travel area; on other occasions, such as this, it says it wants uncontrolled mass immigration. Which is it?

13. Scotland’s proud history of research, innovation and discovery is inextricably bound up with the success of the United Kingdom. Does the Minister agree that the only sure and certain and the best way to ensure that Scotland remains a leader in world-class research is for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom? (142172)

I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman. He will be aware that Scottish universities and research institutes receive £436 million from UK research councils—roughly 13% of the overall scientific research funding. [Interruption.]

Order. There are a lot of very noisy private conversations taking place in the Chamber. Let us have a bit of order so that we can hear Mr Michael Connarty.