Off the Fence with East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds

COMMENT: University has to prove it offers value for money

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This time two years ago Team GB was warming up for the Olympic and Paralympic Games – just weeks from putting in a stunning performance and winning an impressive number of medals.

But this time next year, there may be no Team GB at all; in just two months’ time our neighbours in Scotland are going to vote on whether the United Kingdom remains intact, or separates.

Our 300-odd year Union has also been of gold standard; arguably the most successful and influential partnership of all time.

It has built an Empire that stretched across the world, won wars, and come to the aid of those less fortunate than ourselves.

Together we have a seat at the decision-making tables of the world, such as the UN Security Council and the G7. We are in a strong position to argue for the social and economic moves that we feel are best for our country, and for the world as a whole.

Together we have braved the global financial crisis and now have the fastest-growing economy in the developed world, with soaring employment levels and thriving industries.

Together we have built and nurtured outstanding national institutions such as the NHS and the state school system, ensuring that nobody either side of the border has to go without healthcare or an education.

All of these strengths would substantially weaken were we to separate.

Some have argued that Scotland would suffer if it chose to be independent, but this ignores the fundamental reality that England would suffer as well.

Without Scottish industry and entrepreneurialism our trade and workforce would be depleted. Without Scottish universities, many of our graduates would miss out on stellar educations and without Scotland as a tourist destination our appeal to the international community would be diminished.

Our shared experiences and history have created a culture that can be found from Cornwall to Kilmarnock and from London to Linlithgow, and it is a culture of which we can all rightly be proud.

So please Scotland, don’t leave us – and let’s return victorious from Rio in 2016 as Team GB.