UK Government reject call for Scottish representation on research body
The UK Government has rejected a recommendation from MPs to increase Scottish representation within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
The Scottish Affairs Committee called for more Scottish involvement within the body, including a seat on the board, in a report about universities last year.
The government response to the report said appointees to the board were “not recruited to represent any constituency, sector or regional grouping”.
It added UKRI obtained understanding of regional diversity by “regular engagement and collaboration with the devolved administrations and their delivery bodies”.
The committee also recommended that the UK government “should not block” efforts by the Scottish government to continue participation in the Erasmus+ exchange programme and to expand the Turing Scheme to facilitate further placements for international students and staff.
The EU has previously said it would not be legally possible to allow only part of a country to participate in Erasmus+.
But the government response made no commitment to future development of the Turing Scheme.
Scottish Affairs Committee chair Pete Wishart said: “Losing out on academic and research partnerships as a result of Brexit and sky-high visa fees are significantly damaging our ability to continue to attract the brightest and best.
“If Scottish universities are to continue punching above their weight, they need appropriate support from government.
“The UK Government’s response to our report contains many words but says very little. There is no good reason why Scottish representation is lacking within decision-making at UKRI and making the UK a more competitive place for international students and academics to come is surely only a positive move.”
The committee has written to the Scottish secretary Alister Jack, seeking more information about the Turing scheme, ringfencing UKRI board seats for the devolved administrations and the UK’s continued participation in Horizon Europe.