An international education strategy has been developed by ministers to attract more academic staff and students to Scotland.
Higher education minister Graeme Dey said the strategy will help maximise the social and economic benefits of international students in Scotland.
However, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Willie Rennie said it will open the sector to the risk of shock in the event of economic crises or military conflicts.
The first-of-its-kind strategy for Scotland aims to attract more staff from across the world and encourage international students to stay in the country after qualifying to work in key growth economies.
The strategy will increase activity to promote Scottish universities and colleges internationally, while work to develop a national exchange programme continues.
A talent attracting and migration service will also be launched later in the year to provide advice for students considering staying in Scotland post-qualification.
Mr Dey, who launched the strategy at Edinburgh Napier University on Wednesday, said: “Scotland already has more top universities per head of population than any other country in the world. This strategy sets out our collective aim to create the conditions for our universities and colleges to continue to flourish.
“In the coming months and years, we will continue to work with Scotland’s universities and colleges to help them diversify their international student research, and staff population, by enhancing our reputation as a world-leading safe and inclusive country, with open-minded social policies.
“We will help maximise the social and economic benefits of international higher education, and we will continue to promote Scotland’s world leading research and knowledge exchange sector on the global stage.”
In 2022-23, more than 83,000 students came to study in Scotland from over 180 countries, with international students making up a quarter of the total student population.
But Mr Rennie raised alarm that this could lead to Scotland becoming too reliant on its international student population.
He said: “For the first time, the income from international students surpassed that from domestic students and both research and teaching is now subsidised by the fees of international students.
“This leaves higher education open to shocks in other parts of the world, whether that be economic, security or otherwise.
“The Scottish Government’s strategy is not only delayed but doesn’t sufficiently recognise the risk faced by higher education as a result of over exposure.
“We have already seen this year a reduction in student numbers from some countries like China where economic issues have impacted applications.
“If there were to be more dramatic shocks such as, for example, military conflicts between China and Taiwan, the impact on Scottish universities would be huge.
“This should have been addressed much more effectively by the new strategy.”