Scottish universities are the cornerstone of future sustainability

Professor Milan Radosavljevic

By Professor Milan Radosavljevic

At a time of international conflict, a global pandemic, and a planet in dire distress due to human activity, it’s safe to say that we live in turbulent times.

Over the past two years, universities have unequivocally demonstrated their value in finding solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. And we can recognize, with certainty, that universities are central to our sustainable future.

You would be wrong to think of universities as ivory towers: they are engines of creativity and innovation – anchor institutions that bring together pioneering researchers and the communities they serve.

Not only have our universities recently been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19, but they have shown incredible agility and responsiveness in the face of the sudden and overwhelming distress facing society. around the world, highlighting the true value of groundbreaking research taking place within our institutions.

It’s no surprise, then, that a recent report by Universities UK noted £3.3 billion as the five-year predicted value of research between universities and non-university partners in Scotland, second only to London.

In a post-pandemic world, research is more crucial than ever if we are to achieve economic stability and environmental sustainability.

I am extremely proud that the University of the West of Scotland was recently ranked in THE Impact 2022 rankings as Scotland’s best university for inclusive and sustainable economic growth, as well as full and productive employment and a decent work for all – and ranked fourth in Britain. This clearly highlights the direct impact of our institutions on local communities, and the wider impact on society globally.

Additionally, all Scottish universities have been rated in the top 20% of over 1,500 universities worldwide. An incredible achievement for the Scottish higher education sector and further recognition of the impactful and globally relevant research produced.

Scotland has always been a leader in research – a pioneer in innovation over the decades. Collaboration has been the key to these successes, and Scotland is home to one of the most diverse, yet highly collaborative research environments around.

Government support for collaboration and committed partnerships is essential and as we all eagerly await the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2021), it should be emphasized that this support for collaborative research needs to be further strengthened. if we are to achieve future growth and sustainability. .

The Scottish Government’s recently published 10-year National Economic Transformation Strategy gives me great hope, as our research capabilities are recognized as the basis for global competitive advantage, with the vision for Scotland to be a leader in research and development.

And while I obviously cannot predict the future, one outcome is certain: if we continue to nurture our highly collaborative research environment, over the next 10 years Scottish universities will lead the way in producing cutting edge research and with high impact for the benefit of society and our planet.

A worthy result of which Scotland should be incredibly proud.

Professor Milan Radosavljevic is Vice Principal for Research, Innovation and Engagement at the University of the West of Scotland.