Study Science in Scotland
The science and engineering sector in Scotland has a long and distinguished history. This is reflected in today's continued excellence at our universities and research institutions, which provide a hotbed of ideas and innovation, making Scotland an ideal place to study and pursue research.
Study Science and Scotland
The strength of the research base in Scotland was recently confirmed by the results from the UK's 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, in which Scotland achieved a very high performance in a range of subjects, with nearly 3,000 staff working in the top-rated internationally competitive departments. Among the subjects with the strongest departments are electrical and electronic engineering, biological sciences, hospital-based clinical subjects, clinical laboratory sciences, applied mathematics and veterinary science.
We are keen to help the country's brightest young scientists turn lab discoveries into high tech products. In August 2001, I launched Scotland's first ever Science Strategy. The strategy commits the Scottish Executive to maintaining a strong science base, fully connected to the UK and international activity and funding sources, and to increasing the exploitation of scientific research. The strategy also recognises the need to encourage science education at all levels and to promote better public understanding of science.
As a result, more public funding than ever before is targeted at our science base. Science spending is rising in real terms, and last year I announced an additional £75 million for Scottish Universities as part of the UK's drive to establish a world-class infrastructure for science research.
We have developed a pipeline of funding support to help projects progress from the pre-development stage onwards to full production. For instance, Enterprise Fellowships allow gifted young scientists to follow their idea through from start to finish, freeing them from academic duties to allow them to concentrate on developing their business, and supporting them with industrial mentoring and entrepreneurial training.
Scotland has always been an outward-looking nation, and many of our institutions have links around the world, which we are continuing to encourage. During a recent visit to the United States, I was delighted to announce a £12m investment to help develop transatlantic research and economic development partnerships, of the type recently agreed by Strathclyde University in Glasgow and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Scottish education in general enjoys a reputation for unsurpassed quality throughout the world. With its emphasis on pro-active independent thinking, it encourages skills that are relevant, marketable and much sought after by today's top companies.
Choice and flexibility at every stage of the educational process is part of what makes Scotland such an ideal study destination. The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework integrates all qualifications within a single system and makes it easy for students to move between courses and institutions.
Student life in Scotland is a supportive and social one. All Scottish universities and colleges do their utmost to make international students feel at home. Many will guarantee accommodation in halls of residence for the first year. And most have welcoming meetings as well as organised social events throughout the year.
Further education colleges offer academic, vocational and professional qualifications in a huge range of subjects from foundation to degree level.
Undergraduate students in higher education have the opportunity to study a broad range of subjects in the first two years of their course and it is usually possible to change courses and specialist subjects up to the end of the second year.
Postgraduate degree courses are open to anyone with a good degree from a recognised university anywhere in the world. Options range from one-year intensive Masters programmes to three-year advanced Research Doctoral degrees.
Scotland is very much part of the UK-wide campaign to increase the number of international students in the UK. We have taken a number of steps in recent years to make studying in the UK more attractive and affordable.
International students no longer need to obtain permission to work, so they can earn money while studying here. A student can work part-time for up to 20 hours a week during term time and full-time during vacations. And if the course runs for a year or more, the students' dependants can now work here, even if they are here for less than a year.
We have introduced simplified entry procedures for UK visa holders and are making the visa service more user-friendly for students. International students can now expect to have straightforward visa applications dealt with within 24 hours, and non-straightforward applications within 10 days.
The number of Chevening scholarships, is being extended for international students. Most scholarships are for one-year Masters courses, although some are for more specialised courses lasting up to six months. Candidates for Chevening scholarships are selected by British Embassies and High Commission.
Why Choose Scotland?
Scotland is the northern part of the United Kingdom and has a population of around five million people. It can be reached by air from most European cities within 1.5 hours.
Scotland has its own legal and education systems, and since 1999, its own Parliament for the first time in nearly 300 years.
Each of our cities has a unique cultural identity with plenty to see and do. Our countryside is one of the last natural areas of unspoilt beauty in Europe, with magnificent mountain scenery, historic castles, spectacular lochs (lakes), glens (valleys), and an abundance of wildlife. Whether your interests are in sport, outdoor pursuits, theatres, or museums and galleries, Scotland has something to offer.
Scottish people have a worldwide reputation for friendliness and hospitality. This is one of the reasons why Scotland has so many long standing international links.
Scottish pioneers invented television, the steam engine, colour photographs, the telephone, the pregnancy scanner and the first 3D-computer game. And it was Scottish research that cloned Dolly the Sheep.
Our economy is driven by global enterprises such as engineering and biotechnology, finance, oil and gas, as well as traditional industries like fishing, agriculture, forestry, textiles and whisky production.
I hope you will consider coming to Scotland to study. If you do, I know that you will be warmly welcomed and will have an excellent educational experience like the generations of international students before you. But wherever you decide to study, I wish you every success in the future.