Scottish higher education and the Scottish parliament: the consequences of mistaken national identity
The creation of a Scottish parliament in 1999 will crystallize a cultural crisis for Scottish higher education. Scottish universities retained their autonomy after the 18th-century union between Scotland and England because the union was about high politics rather than the affairs of civil society and culture. Unlike in England, the universities developed in close relationship with Scottish agencies of the state during the 19th century, and these agencies also built up a system of non-university higher education colleges. In the 20th century, the universities (and later some of the colleges) sought to detach themselves from Scottish culture and politics, favouring instead a common British academic network. So the new constitutional settlement faces Scottish higher education institutions with an enforced allegiance to the Scottish nation that will sharply disrupt their 80-year interlude as outposts of the British polity.
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