VINCE Cable, the Business Secretary, is expected to warn MPs next week that Scottish universities could see their research funding cut and their reputations harmed if Scotland became independent.

The LibDem will give evidence to the House of Commons Business Committee on Wednesday alongside David Willetts, the Universities Minister, when the hearing will cover not only university funding but also business and postal services in an independent Scotland.

Last autumn, Mr Cable told MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee that independence could harm the international status and reputation of Scottish universities by seeing their research funding cut.

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He explained at the time that on a population share Scottish colleges would normally receive 10% of UK Research Council funding but, because of the high quality of research in Scotland, they received 15% instead. Yet he accepted, that if self-interest came to the fore following independence, then little research funding would find its way north of the Border.

It is also possible that the Secretary of State could be drawn into the row about the Scottish Government's plans to continue to charge students from the rest of the UK following independence.

Earlier, Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, defended the proposal, saying to do otherwise would result in Scottish colleges being overwhelmed by "fee refugees" from the UK, who, research showed, would take up 80% of university places in an independent Scotland.