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Early Learning and Childcare

Could an independent Scotland provide childcare at a reasonable cost?

Yes. The current Scottish Government proposes a transformation in early years learning and childcare provision. Independence will give us the opportunity to invest more in the supply of services, rather than subsidising demand. This is the approach adopted in the most successful countries and will ensure resources are spent most effectively, and make childcare more affordable for all.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What would independence mean for early learning and childcare?

Independence gives us the opportunity to do more to deliver world-class early learning and childcare. As a first step in realising this transformational vision, this Government plans to extend the current provision of 600 hours a year to around half of two year olds in the first budget of an independent Scotland. Those whose parents are currently on working tax credit or child tax credit will benefit.

We aim, by the end of the first term of an independent Scottish Parliament, to increase this entitlement to 1,140 hours for all three and four year olds, and vulnerable two year olds. Our long-term objective is that by the end of the second Parliament all children from age one to when they enter school will have an entitlement to 1,140 hours a year of high quality early learning and childcare, giving young children the same number of hours as primary school children.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will maternity and paternity rights, and flexible parental leave look like in an independent Scotland?

Powers over these issues will transfer to the Scottish Parliament on independence. On independence, parents will continue to have the same maternity and paternity rights as now, with future Scottish governments then able to decide how the system of parental support should be improved.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Schools

What would independence mean for education in Scotland?

Education is already almost fully devolved to Scotland. Our system is performing well. Scottish pupils outperform the OECD average in reading and science, and are similar to it in maths, and the latest results show that we have halted a period of relative international decline since 2000. These improvements, achieved under devolution, show that when decisions are made in Scotland better results are achieved for Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will independence mean for schools?

The management of the school system in Scotland is already fully devolved.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What educational rights would people expect in an independent Scotland?

This Government believes that Scotland’s permanent written constitution should include the right to education and the right for every young person to be offered a job or training.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will independence mean for denominational schools?

The present system will continue. Faith-based education makes an important and valued contribution to Scottish society and the right of parents to make that choice for their children will remain.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will independence mean for skills and training in Scotland?

Independence offers Scotland an opportunity fully to mobilise its resources to build a skilled workforce ready to meet demand. At the moment, the financial benefits of successful employment initiatives by the Scottish Government – such as Modern Apprenticeships, higher and further education funding and other training programmes – go to Westminster in the form of reduced welfare payments and increased taxation. With independence we will be able to retain these benefits in Scotland and will be able to re-invest them in our people.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will independence mean for Gaelic?

Gaelic has been a continuing element in Scottish heritage, identity and history for many centuries. Gaelic has official recognition and it is an increasingly visible part of Scottish public life reaching into education, the arts, media and broadcasting. In an independent Scotland, Gaelic will have a central place in Scottish public life.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What would the priorities be for Gaelic in an independent Scotland?

Our aim as a government would be to continue to reverse the decline of Gaelic in Scotland. The most recent Census has demonstrated that initiatives in support of Gaelic have significantly slowed down the decline of the language. Policy and resources would continue to be directed to the priority of increasing the numbers speaking, learning and using the language.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Gaelic be recognised as an official language in an independent Scotland?

In Scotland, Gaelic has a significant level of official support from the Scottish Government. Official recognition for Gaelic is also provided by the 2005 Gaelic Act. In an independent Scotland this official recognition would be confirmed and maintained.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will there be more support for the Scots Language in an independent Scotland?

The 2011 Census, for the first time, provided information on the numbers of Scots speakers. This information, in an independent Scotland, will assist in developing policy and promoting the use and status of the Scots language and supporting communities that speak Scots.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

University Access, Tuition Fees and Cross-border Flow

Will students resident in Scotland be able to go to university in Scotland without paying fees?

Yes. The current Scottish Government remains committed to access to higher education for eligible Scots based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. This means eligible undergraduate students attending university in an independent Scotland will not have to pay tuition fees.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would Scotland still charge students from the rest of the UK tuition fees?

Yes. The divergence in funding policy between Scotland and England and the resulting disparity in the cost of a university education creates a huge financial incentive for students from England to study in Scotland. In that context, and to ensure Scottish students remain able to study at Scottish Higher Education Institutions, we propose maintaining the status quo by continuing our policy of allowing Scottish Higher Education Institutions to set their own annual tuition fees for students from the rest of the UK at a rate no higher than the maximum annual tuition fee rate chargeable to such students by universities in the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would charging students from the rest of the UK tuition fees in an independent Scotland be compatible with EU law?

We believe that the unique and unprecedented position of a post-independent Scotland will enable us to continue our current policy in a way which is consistent with the principles of free movement across the EU as a whole and which is compatible with EU requirements.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

We believe that the unique and unprecedented position of a post-independent Scotland will enable us to continue our current policy in a way which is consistent with the principles of free movement across the EU as a whole and which is compatible with EU r

Each member state is free to adopt its own domestic policies, consistent with the objectives of the EU. We believe that our fees policies contribute to student mobility across the wider EU, while addressing the consequences of the unique situation of Scottish independence. In these circumstances we believe that it will be possible to deliver our policy in a way which is compatible with EU requirements.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will students from parts of the EU other than the rest of the UK pay tuition fees?

Students from other parts of the EU have the same right of access to education as home students. This means EU applicants are considered for entry on the same academic basis as home students and pay the same. This will remain the case with independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will other international (non-EU) students be attracted to study in an independent Scotland?

Scottish Universities are amongst the best in the world and highly attractive to overseas students. In January 2013, 21 per cent of students studying in Scotland were from outwith the UK, including 28,500 international students from outwith the EU. This world beating quality will ensure an independent Scotland continues to attract the brightest and best students from around the world to study here.

Independence will allow Scotland to develop its own immigration policies addressing the negative impact of changes to student visas implemented by the current Westminster Government. This will ensure that we benefit from the skills and enthusiasm of those highly educated young people who wish to study here and make Scotland their home.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will non-EU/international students be charged tuition fees?

Charges for international students are at the discretion of each individual higher education institution and this will continue to be the case in an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will the Westminster Government’s policy on visas for international students continue to apply in an independent Scotland?

Westminster Government decisions on student visas have deterred some international students, posing a direct threat to Scotland’s universities and colleges. Independence will allow Scotland to develop its own immigration system ensuring that we benefit from the skills and enthusiasm of those highly educated young people who wish to make Scotland their home.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will there still be four-year degrees in an independent Scotland?

The current Scottish Government believes the flexibility of the four-year degree and potential for progression through the currently available direct entry routes is a strength of the sector. The Government intends that an independent Scotland will continue with this and will support any moves to increase choices and flexibility for our students.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will UCAS continue to administer applications to Scottish universities in an independent Scotland?

Scotland’s universities are autonomous institutions and currently choose to provide this service through UCAS. Independence will not affect universities’ ability to make this choice.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Research Funding in an Independent Scotland

How will research be supported in an independent Scotland?

The excellence of Scottish universities is recognised internationally and they are highly successful in winning competitive funding grants. Building on their reputation our universities will continue to compete for substantial funding for their research on the same competitive basis as they do currently.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will an independent Scotland set up its own research councils?

There are a number of options for research funding in an independent Scotland including establishing a Scottish Research Council for the allocation of research monies or as a mechanism for directing funding into existing pan-UK research councils. We recognise the benefits – for the academic community, business and research charities across the UK – of maintaining long-term stability in research funding and systems that support initiatives of scale and researchers working together across boundaries. With independence we will seek to maintain a common research area with the rest of the UK including existing shared Research Councils.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Why would UK research councils continue to fund research in an independent Scotland?

Scotland already contributes to funding of the UK Research Councils through the tax base and this Government intends that it should continue to contribute as an independent country. The excellence of Scottish universities’ research is reflected in their success in winning competitive UK Research Council grant funding.

The rest of the UK benefits from Scotland’s high quality research and our centres of excellence and shared infrastructure are used by researchers from across the UK including: five Medical Research Council research centres; five Isotope facilities; the All-Waters Combined Current and Wave Test Facility; and the Roslin Institute.

Successful research depends on collaboration across boundaries, whether disciplinary, institutional or national. Research collaboration contributes directly to the competitiveness of the Scottish and UK economies through knowledge creation and exchange and direct collaboration with business, as well as supporting intellectual life and the academic aspirations of institutions and researchers.

It is in both Scotland’s and the UK’s interests to minimise any barriers to research collaboration and to maintain a common research area.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How would the research councils be funded?

Scotland already contributes to the funding of the Research Councils through the tax base. Following independence, Scotland would contribute directly from the Scottish Government budget giving us a clearer role in setting the strategic objectives of these bodies. With independence, we would intend to negotiate with Westminster a fair funding formula for Scotland’s contribution based on population share but taking reasonable account of the fact that the amount of research funding received by Scottish institutions from the Research Councils may reflect higher or lower levels of funding.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will independence weaken university research in Scotland?

No. We will seek to continue the current common research area arrangements and funding through the existing research councils. And while the UK will remain an important research partner, Scotland can also build on the significant successes achieved in working across European boundaries by hosting international research centres who are increasingly attracted to Scotland by the quality of our research base. The current Scottish Government supports the European Commission in its ambition for “a reinforced European research area partnership for excellence and growth” with researchers, research institutions and businesses moving, competing and co-operating across borders more intensively.

Levels of public investment in university research will be sufficient to enable our researchers and universities to remain internationally competitive with current levels of public investment in university research, through the Scottish Funding Council and Research Councils, at least maintained as part of wider and longer term plans to enhance levels of investment in research and development in Scotland from the private sector and other sources.

The present Scottish Government also intends to use the powers of independence to address one of the biggest threats to research in Scotland as a result of the policies of the current Westminster Government. We plan to reintroduce the poststudy work visa, which was abolished by Westminster in April 2012. This visa will encourage more talented people from around the world to further their education in Scotland, providing income for Scotland’s institutions and contributing to a growing economy.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will Scottish research continue to benefit from UK charities’ research funding?

Charities, like businesses, will make decisions to fund research in an independent Scotland based upon reputation, excellence and value for money – just as they do now. For example, for as long as our universities and NHS research base continue to be seen as world leaders in the research and treatment of diseases – from cancer to Parkinson’s – then Scotland will continue to attract funding accordingly.

UK charities, such as Cancer Research, provided competitively funded research in Scotland of £121 million in 2011/12. Scots are also generous contributors to UK charities, both financially and by way of fundraising and volunteering activities.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will independence affect jobs of academics and those in related areas?

The current Scottish Government’s investment in our universities has allowed them to attract an increasing number of talented researchers and academics from around the world. This has contributed to our success and independence would put our universities in an even stronger position as it would allow Scotland to remove the barriers caused by the current Westminster Government’s visa regulations.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will postgraduate study be supported in an independent Scotland?

Education is already fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The current Scottish Government has demonstrated its commitment to supporting postgraduate study and would maintain this commitment following independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.