Restrictive post-Brexit immigration rules would be "seriously damaging" to Scotland's higher education and research sectors, academics have warned.

A working group from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) set out its concerns in a submission to the Migration Advisory Committee.

The independent committee has been commissioned by the UK Government to assess the impact of international students in the UK.

The RSE says the UK and Scottish Governments' ambition to develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is in danger of being undermined if restrictive immigration policies are put in place, especially relating to foreign students.

The working group, chaired by Professor David Cole-Hamilton, has called on the UK Government to remove students from its net migration targets and to reintroduce the post-study work visa.

RSE General Secretary Professor Alan Alexander said: "It is clear that a restrictive approach to immigration would be particularly harmful to Scotland.

"It would adversely affect international students and their contribution to Scotland's economy, higher education institutions and their place in international relations.

"International students, both from in and outside the EU, make a valuable contribution to the UK's economy as a whole, but particularly in Scotland, where their contribution is necessary to offset the impacts of an increasingly ageing population.

"The loss of this talent due to more restrictive immigration policies would seriously damage Scotland's internationally-recognised research and teaching institutions, and in turn Scotland's economy.

"Both the Scottish and UK Governments set the creation of high-value businesses and jobs, particularly in fields such as life sciences and technology, as a high priority. These fields develop from innovative research, often conducted in our universities."

A Home Office spokesman said: "There is no limit to the number of genuine international students that can come to the UK to study and we very much value the contribution that they make.

"We have commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to provide an objective assessment of the impact of EU and non-EU students. This provides an important opportunity for the sector to share evidence, and the MAC's independent advice will help inform decisions on the future migration system.

"We are carefully considering the options for a future immigration system but are clear that the UK will remain an open country that attracts talented international students."