First Minister Alex Salmond attempted to force Professor Louise Richardson, principal of the University, into retracting comments made about the adverse effects of independence, according to investigations by The Telegraph.
He also urged her to be critical of Westminster over higher education policy.
Mr Salmond personally telephoned the principal to persuade her to tone down or retract comments made in an interview with The Times in March.
During this interview Professor Richardson said: “If we were cut off from national research councils it would be catastrophic for this institution … We would lose our top academics, we would fail to attract serious academics [from other countries].”
A Freedom of Information request submitted by The Telegraph revealed communications between Geoff Aberdein, Mr Salmond’s Chief of Staff, and the University’s press office and Principal’s Office.
It was revealed that Mr Aberdein had sent an email to the Univeristy’s press office, suggesting a comment he wished to be issued under Professor Richardon’s name.
A draft comment was proposed to Professor Richardson by the press office. This comment praised the Scottish government’s policy on tuition fees and spoke of confidence in their ability to also provide research funding in the event of independence.
Professor Richardson, however, refused to accept this comment.
Even after this refusal, Mr Aberdein continued to email the University’s director of communications, Niall Scott, pushing for a clarification.
Eventually a one line statement was issued, expressing the principal’s acknowledgement that the Scottish Government “is working hard to resolve this issue” of research funding.
Mr Salmond is an alumnus of the University, where he gained a degree in economics and medieval history.