Question Naeem Politics & International Relations

Impacts of Leaving the EU on the Scottish Economy

Around 10 percent of Scotland’s university funding comes from the EU in the form of ERASMUS, representing £1.86 billion for the whole economy. How significant is the impact of leaving the EU on the Scottish economy?

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Answer Expert #735

On 30th October, 2016, journalist Judith Duffy asserted that the impact of Brexit on Scottish higher education institutions could ultimately leave them culturally, intellectually and financially impoverished, citing numerous reasons for the uncertainty including a reduction in access to EU funding programmes. ERASMUS, one such programme, has a profound impact on the Scottish economy for a number of reasons. Firstly, the figure of £1.86 billion refers to research funding that is given to British universities and translates into in excess of 19,000 jobs, thus representing the impact that it has on the UK economy on the initial level and the resultant employment (Gaunt, 2016). The removal of such funding would ultimately lead to a loss of jobs and this would have a significant impact on those occupying those roles in Scotland. As such, it would be necessary for Scottish institutions to attempt to plug the funding gap that would open up if ERASMUS was to be abandoned following Britain leaving the EU.

However, there are several other profound potential points of impact on the Scottish economy that stems from a potential withdrawal from ERASMUS. For example, a lack of funding for ERASMUS would undoubtedly lead to a reduction in the amount of EU students that choose to study in Scotland as many would no longer be able to finance placements and this would discourage the mobility of students who may ultimately choose to work in the nation following graduation (EU Committee, 2012). Similarly, 1,600 Scots take advantage of ERASMUS so this would limit their options (Colleges Scotland, 2016). This would, as a consequence, bring about a limiting of cultural awareness and academic confidence, both of which are vital in attracting the best and brightest to contribute to the economy in the long term.


Colleges Scotland, (2016). Colleges Scotland Briefing: Impact of Brexit. Colleges Scotland. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 November 2016].

Duffy, J., (2016). Revealed: How Brexit Will 'Devastate' Scotland's World-Class Universities. Herald Scotland. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 November 2016].