Scotland has been in the news a lot this year by reprising notions of independence seven hundred years after the Bruce’s decisive victory at Bannockburn.
Alex Salmond, however, was less successful in leading his followers to freedom, with voters choosing ‘No’ to a national referendum, preferring that Scotland remain part of the Union: the Scots were kept in. But where postgraduate choices are concerned, the enormous 117.5-kilometre Roman wall can’t keep out a burgeoning international contingent of students wanting to vote ‘Yes’ for Scotland when it comes to further education.
And why wouldn’t they? “Our graduates have the highest rate of employment or further study
in the UK”, Study in Scotland proudly declares, drawing legions of postgrads to invade the universities of Scotland, and plunder the intellectual establishment of highly prized, internationally recognized master’s degrees. With the United Kingdom and swathes of Europe still buckling beneath the weight of austerity measures, the prospect of acquiring a job after years of toil, seems ever more distant. This ‘rug-pulling moment’ is leaving an increasingly disenfranchised graduate population in the countries hardest hit by the financial calamities of 2008. Enter Scotland: a nation whose institutions are sidestepping the trend and whose alumni are powering economic revival around the world. Scotland boasts 19 institutions centred around Scotland’s seven cities—the capital Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Stirling, Aberdeen, Inverness, and Perth—and like Southeast Asian cuisine—they all have their own distinctive flavour and appeal. Of these 19, five are in the world’s top 200, and highly respected internationally for the rigour of their courses with strong cores of theory and vocation. Not bad for a nation of 5 million.
Scotland has already given the world so much: whisky, bagpipes, and a 50 million strong international community that traces its ancestral heritage to the Highlands after the emigrations of the 17th century. But it’s Scotland’s contributions to academia over the centuries that have been extraordinary, cementing the pedigree of Scotland’s universities. They’ve added to the fields of medicine, philosophy, science, economics, and business. Scotland’s proponents - Bell, Baird and Higgs to name a few - are household names and their legacies litter our bookshelves and our living rooms.
Despite the economic despondency of Europe’s south and the country’s near miss at independence, business continues to drive Scotland’s stratospheric ambition, honouring a long tradition that includes the ‘father of modern economics’, Adam Smith, and his seminal work on The Wealth of Nations. This tradition is perhaps most apparent at Edinburgh University—founded in 1583, and enhanced by successful modern enterprises that mould its famed business postgrad degrees, and the students lucky enough to gain a place upon them. “Choose to study with us and you will be investing in an education that will help you build a successful future”, the website says—a statement hard to criticise.
Edinburgh University’s prophesy underpins the philosophy of Scottish universities: 'Education has a purpose'. Employability, therefore, is an important consideration. Ninety per cent of its graduates secure employment and can command some of the highest starting salaries in the UK.
But why? Scottish degree courses empower students with the sort of transferable skills that make international employers salivate: the capacity to think independently, leadership skills, the ability to exercise judgement and initiative, to cultivate an atmosphere of team working, all supported by a well-rounded ability to make evidence based arguments. And when it comes to finding work, Scottish universities have a long-established network of employers, professional bodies, and enterprises that would make Mark Zuckerburg blush. This relationship between degree and employment has developed a respect and trust within the within the marketplace whereby graduates who emerge from its universities are considered “work ready”—a tremendous advantage in today’s tumultuous world.
Beyond the business world of Edinburgh University and the Wallace Monument, a caber toss from Stirling University, a vibrant microcosm exists across Scotland’s university cities that offer respite for the international postgrad after hours with the books. Smooth, local, single malts are served from “around the corner” in ancient bars with creaking wooden floorboards and hearty food can be found oozing onto the cobbled streets of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, and raw nature— lochs, glens, and mountains—the very heart of this industrious people, is never more than an hour away from Scotland’s buzzing citadels. Scotland is place where a man playing the bagpipes in a kilt of teal and crimson is never far away—some would call that character. A land that treasures its past, but looks to the future. It’s a place where life is permeated by its wealth of history. There are fewer places more attractive to study.
Scotland is a country on the periphery of Europe, but a postgrad degree from one of its famed institutions will place it firmly at the centre of your world—and career. Ultimately, employment matters, and that’s why international students should vote a firm ‘Yes’ for Scotland.
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