The Scottish Liberal Democrats’ election manifesto will propose a double boost for universities in a bid to stave off harmful effects of Brexit, The Courier has learned.
When it launches in Edinburgh, the document will set out a guarantee of the rights of EU staff and students at institutes like St Andrews and Dundee.
Sources in the party said that, together with proposals for the Scottish Government to sponsor a new Post Study Work Visa, will support Scottish universities that rely heavily on foreign students and staff to keep at the cutting edge of research and development, as well as receiving a boost in funds through fees.
“For example, Scottish universities have seen a 60% drop in Indian students since 2012, risking the £800 million that overseas students contribute to the Scottish economy,” said one insider.
Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader, will visit a mental health charity and take part in some painting to unveil the policy document, which was delayed in the aftermath of the Manchester terror attack.
Speaking ahead of the launch, he said: “Votes for the Liberal Democrats will stop another divisive independence referendum from the nationalists.
“With the Scottish economy teetering on the edge of a recession, the performance of Scottish education dropping down the international rankings and mental health services failing to deliver, the last thing our country needs is another divisive and distracting independence referendum.
“The Liberal Democrats are setting out a positive plan to invest in mental health and education. A modest penny on tax secures those.
“We will protect jobs in Scotland by opposing an extreme Conservative Brexit and giving people the right to reject a bad deal. We will keep the triple-lock on the state pension.
“We will scrap the Conservatives’ two-child rule for tax credits which causes the ‘rape clause’ that has outraged people in Scotland.
“We will promote a Scotland and a Britain that are open, tolerant and united.”