ALMOST nine in ten Scots want immigration policies that properly protect Scottish universities, a survey has found.

Umbrella body Universities Scotland hopes the findings will “influence the thinking of the next UK Government”.

After the Thursday vote, the UK Parliament faces major questions over new rules governing the movement of people as – or if – the Brexit process continues.

Scottish institutions have raised fears about the impact a potential £30,000 minimum salary limit for inward migrants will have on them.

The limit is despite the fact that lab technicians, researchers and those in other academic positions often earn less than this.

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Now research taken out for the body – which backs the introduction of a two-year post-study work visa for graduates – has found that almost nine in ten adults in Scotland agree that scientists, academics and their support staff are valuable to the UK. The same level back highly skilled university research staff over highly paid candidates.

Only 3% backed that option in a survey of the general public.

Professor Andrea Nolan, convener of Universities Scotland, commented: “This latest polling demonstrates that the Scottish public are keenly aware that Scotland needs people of skill and talent to come to the country, regardless of what happens with Brexit.

“Scotland has unique demographic challenges which means that immigration has a big role to play in ensuring our vital industries, like higher education, are able to grow further and become an even greater success story for Scotland.

“We need early career academics and technicians to come to Scotland.

“If the salary threshold remains at £30,000 a year, universities and other vital sectors, such as the NHS, are going to struggle to fill vacancies for roles that are usually undertaken by fledgling academics.

“We want to see all political parties, regardless of who is in government later this month, commit to ensuring that Scotland and its universities flourish.”