By a Newsnet reporter

Four Scottish universities have been ranked in the top 100 in a global league table measuring scientific performance.

St Andrews, Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen universities all score highly in the Leiden ratings which rank universities according to their impact on sciences and involvement in scientific collaboration.

Only 15 UK universities made it into the Leiden Rankings top 100, meaning that Scots universities are disproportionately represented in the listing.  Glasgow University also ranked high, although just outside the top 100.

Drawn up by experts at Leiden University in the Netherlands, the ranking system measures universities’ performance according to advanced indicators of scientific impact, collaboration and the number of citations that research receives.

Speaking to the Times newspaper earlier this month, Tim O’Shea, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said that Scotland was one of the best places in the world for university education:

Mr O’Shea said:

“We have a positive relation with the Scottish Government, and we’re flourishing, if you look at other European countries, we are in a higher education system which is booming. It doesn’t matter how you measure it. Do we have a good participation rate of students? Yes. Does our research team have impact? Massively – right at the top, better than England. Are we creating lots of economic opportunities for Scotland? Yes. Most countries in Europe would kill to have a university system like the Scottish one.”

“My relation with all four Scottish Governments has been very positive … [they] have helped create the environment in which Scottish universities do really well. If I had a choice between running a state-funded university in America and running a university in Scotland, then Scotland is the place to be.”

George Adam MSP, a member of the Education and Culture Committee at the Scottish Parliament, welcomed the figures and said that this achievement was backed up by Scotland’s commitment to free student tuition and investment in higher education.

Mr Adam said:

“Scotland has a proud tradition of scientific innovation and higher education, and these university rankings in this field show we’re punching well above our weight on the world stage.

“It is a credit to the Scottish Government’s cast iron commitment to the highest standards and fairest possible access to higher education that Scotland’s universities are doing so well on the global stage.

“In Scotland we are committed to delivering first class higher education based on the ability to learn – not the ability to pay.

“That is a principle which we are firmly committed to, which is why the SNP abolished back-door tuition fees in Scotland when we came to office in 2007.

“Young Scots and their families can rest assured that the SNP will never introduce tuition fees, and Labour should commit themselves to free university tuition or face the charge that they are just the same as the Tories and Lib Dems on this issue.

“A successful economy is a well-educated economy. It is in all our interests to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to access higher education – and that is exactly what the Scottish Government is delivering.”

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