Wednesday, 4 December 2013

ESRC Future of the UK & Scotland: Science, research and Scottish independence?

By Dr Omid Omidvar

This article was originally produced for the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland blog on 4 December 2013.

In November, two papers were published regarding the future of Scotland. The first, ‘Scotland analysis: Science and research’, written by the UK government, and unveiled by David Willetts, UK Science Minister earlier in November, focuses solely on the issues related to science and research in Scotland, whereas the second one, a Scottish Government White Paper, addresses a whole range of issues associated with independence in Scotland with a brief discussion of the futures of science and higher education in Scotland (Chapter 5- Education, Skills and Employment).

Both papers testify to the strength of the Scottish science base and the contribution of Scottish universities to the UK research base as a whole. They agree on the significance and success of the presently developed research infrastructure, funding system, collaboration platforms and research support organisations across the UK. The importance of the mutually reinforcing research capabilities developed across the boundaries of the UK in a single integrated system goes unquestioned in both papers.

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Monday, 2 December 2013

ESRC Future of the UK & Scotland: White paper reflections – Health and Clinical Research

By Dr James Mittra

This article was originally produced for the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland blog on 2 December 2013.

The recently published Scottish White Paper on independence includes a relatively small section on health, social care and the NHS (pages 170-176), as part of a larger chapter on Health, Wellbeing and Social Protection (chapter 4). Like the rest of the document, the narrative is very positive in explaining the many benefits that have come with devolution, such as allowing Scotland to respond to its own national needs, which are different from the rest of the UK. The unique challenges that continue to face Scotland are also outlined and full independence is presented as creating new opportunities to respond to these more effectively. As many commentators have pointed out, however, the document is weighty in terms of the sheer volume of pages, but rather light on detail. This is perhaps unsurprising when considering the range of issues that are implicated in the independence debate.

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