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Scottish Science Preserved

When voters in Scotland last week decided that the country would remain part of the United Kingdom they not only chose to continue a 400-year-old alliance but also to keep the flow of funding for science heading northwards from the UK government in London.

The 'no' vote on seceding from the UK has many in Scotland's science communities breathing a sigh of relief, according to New Scientist.

"This ensures that biomedical and clinical research – and Scotland's great achievements in delivering on this in the past – will continue unchecked," says Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre's Margaret Frame.

The big worry among researchers was that if Scotland became independent it would have cut off science funding that the government awards through the federal budgets, likely leading to less research and making it harder to
make long-term plans.

"If Scotland had become independent, access to Research Councils UK money would have dried up," adds Hugh Pennington, a bacteriologist at the University of Aberdeen who also launched a campaign group against independence called Academics Together.

He says scientists who were advocating for independence but thought they could still receive UK funding for science were mistaken, and that negotiations to keep the money flowing would have broken down.

University of Edinburgh microbiologist Nigel Brown says breaking out of the UK would have meant "a great deal of uncertainty" for research funding, which eventually would have caused a national brain drain in reborn Scotland.

"My impression is that many excellent Scottish scientists would be tempted to leave. There are not enough jobs in the rest of the UK to accommodate them, so they would have moved abroad to the detriment of Scottish and UK science," Brown says.