Ahead of EU Brexit Vote, Academics Push for Remain

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

The UK is expected to vote next week on whether or not to stay in the European Union. Universities are pushing to remain, citing fears that leaving would put the future of higher education in the UK at risk.

Universities UK, an organization that represents the university leaders throughout the country, argues that the 125,000 EU students currently account for more than $3 billion in funding for the economy, creating 19,000 jobs.

Thirty Northern Ireland members of the Royal Irish Academy have also shown their support for the Remain campaign, which would keep the UK in the EU, saying damage could be done to universities there if the UK chooses to leave.

The letter discusses the Erasmus student exchange program, saying not only does it "foster an international, outward looking culture" but at the same time it suggests that its participants will be less likely to be unemployed. They go on to discuss its financial benefits, saying Northern Ireland has received more than twice the amount of overall funding per capita than the entire UK.

The authors detail the benefits found from collaborating on research, saying that research performed this way has been found to be have close to 50% more of a measurable impact than when it is performed on a national level, writes David Walker for The Times Higher Education.

As 62% of the research being completed in the UK is now considered to be international, the letter finds that "working together, UK and European researchers pool their resources, expertise, data and infrastructure to achieve more together than they could do alone."

They state that the EU is responsible for more than one-third of the scientific output throughout the world, 34% more than the US.

Lastly, they argue that university funding would be lost as a result of leaving the EU, as EU funds currently account for 17% of the total science research grants in UK Higher Education Institutes. In addition, an increase of 73% in funding between 2007 and 2014 is due to EU sources.

Results from a new survey suggest that those who work in higher education look on immigration and freedom of movement with the European Union as positive and key reasons to support the continued membership of the bloc.

The referendum survey from The Times Higher Education included an open question in which participants noted the reasons behind their decision on the vote whether they wanted to leave or stay.

The responses suggest that those who work in positions they felt to be secure or that their wages would not be influenced by immigration tended to be more likely to agree with staying in the EU, writes John Morgan for The Times Higher Education.

While some discussed the benefits in terms of additional opportunities to work and collaborate with people across the EU, others focused on student mobility.

"I have both been an international exchange student myself in the past, and worked closely with Erasmus exchange students and with international partners, and it is also clear to me that the UK, and universities in particular, benefit socially and culturally from the rich perspectives gained through exchanges and through freedom of movement," wrote one respondent.

06 19, 2016
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