Hadrian’s Wall actually doesn't look like The Wall photos: (left) Velella/WIkipedia / (right) http://highlighthollywood.com/

The lion and the unicorn to divorce?

Bethan Riddell provides a student’s guide to Scottish Independence

Southerners, if any of you have ventured past that barren land north of the Lake District, Geordie Shore and Blackpool Pier you would come to a wall. This wall, commissioned by Hadrian, marks the boundary between Scotland and England. It appears that the aforementioned Roman felt it necessary mark the divide between lands – a divide that in 1707 was deemed redundant when the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England became ‘Great Britain’.

If any of you have read a newspaper other than the Boar in the last two years (but then why would you have any need?) you will know that this September there will be a referendum, in which the Tartan-clad will vote whether or not they wish to remain part of the UK. “Why wouldn’t they?” I hear you cry! A good question, and one the oh-sohighly reputable Scottish tabloid writers have been wracking their pun-riddled brains to demean and purely proffer the Braveheart quote ‘FREEDOM’ in response.

Now, this is all very well and good, I hear you think, but what has it got to do with me? Well dear readers, it may come as a surprise to you that there are Scot-folk at this very University. Yes, we are an elusive creature, to be encountered very rarely in such a Southern and flat location but we are here nonetheless. You will stumble upon us when you least expect it –overhearing the utterance ‘a wee bit of milk’ at Curiositea, requesting haggis (what’s that?) on our full English breakfasts and remember that girl who gets too lairy and shouts incoherent profanities at the bouncer in Smack? Yeah they aren’t Scottish, now you’re just being stereotypical.

Well, kind reader, if Scotland becomes an independent country- not only would you lose terrorist apprehenders (Glasgow Airport 2007*), pay more for whisky and lose this delightful writer as a citizen, but as University education is free in Scotland for Scottish residents, you would undoubtedly lose plenty of the Scots here at Warwick., and indeed at many universities across England. After all, why pay £9000 when you could pay nothing at all? Warwick is known for the diversity of its students – people travel from all over the world to study here, and we gain a better social education from it.

However, here’s a little food for thought – would national relations revert to pre-1707 if Scotland split from the UK? Would I be an immigrant if I continue my University education and Scotland isn’t accepted into the EU? Would future students be subject to international fees? I may be biased, but I believe that the cultural mix of Warwick needs Scots in the offering.

There is currently controversy surrounding the treatment of English students that wish to study in Scotland post-independence. Salmond claims that there would be an influx of English students (if they were counted as EU) to Scottish Universities as our tuition fees would be significantly lower than the £9000 currently charged in England. There has also been brought into question whether a residency test would have to be designed to determine if you are ‘Scottish’ enough to be allowed the free tuition and if not then you are subject to EU fees.

University Scotland stated it’s legal opinion in the Guardian: “RUK students will require to be treated no differently from other
EU students in a post independent Scotland and if we are to be able to retain the ability to charge RUK students then the situation for EU students will require to change and, in effect, only those students satisfying the residency requirements would be able to benefit from the more beneficial terms offered to ‘Scottish resident’ students.”

This would not implement much change from the current situation in which English/Welsh/Northern Irish students attending Scottish University do pay tuition fees – but there is around a 7-8 grand difference per annum for what EU citizens pay and what English students pay for Scottish Universities- a highly controversial and criticised element of the Scottish University System.

Apart from the potential loss of students in your education system, there would also be a chance that you would need to change currency to the ‘Merk’ or Euro if you wanted to visit Edinburgh for New Year, or pop by Aviemore for some skiing. There would also be the movement of the nuclear submarines from the Clyde to some currently undecided location further South. In terms of politics, England would see a huge loss of Labour voters and the further dominance of the Conservatives – good or bad depending on what floats your boat.

Imagine if Scotland did become independent successfully, would the current 10 percent of Wales crying for their own independence increase? Would Northern Ireland decide to emulate their Celtic cousins? Having moved across the
border myself, I can safely say we are not so different. It has taken some time to adapt to the Londoncentric slang Warwick specialises in (jokes, shabba, cotch etc.) and have mourned at the loss of Scottish slang (some of the crudest yet greatest in the world I can assure you). For me it comes down to national identity more than anything – I am Scottish yes, but I am British
too. Ever since Britain’s ‘glory days’ and Imperial ways we have built a national identity together and if this falls apart surely we would all suffer the loss.

If this article hasn’t raised your awareness on the issue of Scottish independence, or inspired you to research the matter further then let me summarise the matter in terms you’ll understand: you won’t stand a chance at winning Wimbledon if you lose us.

*John Smeaton stopped a bomber in Glasgow Airport accompanied by the phrase ‘f*cking ‘mon then’.


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