Universities and academic institutions have expressed their worries about the UK leaving the European Union, following the vote for Brexit last week.
In an open letter to the Independent, 103 vice-chancellors of universities said they were “gravely concerned about the impact of a UK exit from the EU on our universities and students”.
The impact of Brexit should “not be underestimated”, the letter continued. “Every year, universities generate over £73bn for the UK economy – £3.7bn of which is generated by students from EU countries, while supporting nearly 380,000 jobs. Strong universities benefit the British people - creating employable graduates and cutting-edge research discoveries that improve lives.”
The British Academy’s President Nicholas Stern released a statement urging politicians to “recognise the value of and provide sustained support to UK-based research and researchers as we enter this new future.”
“UK researchers gain greatly from international mobility and interactions with their contemporaries from other countries,” he said. “We must find new and productive ways to engage with our European colleagues and it is vital that UK researchers maintain access to the EU, its networks and funding streams.”
Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, agreed that the UK must maintain strong relationships with the EU, saying: “In the past, UK science has been well supported by EU funding. This has been an essential supplement to UK research funds. In the upcoming negotiations we must make sure that research, which is the bedrock of a sustainable economy, is not short changed, and the government ensures that the overall funding level of science is maintained.”
He added: “One of the great strengths of UK research has always been its international nature, and we need to continue to welcome researchers and students from abroad. Any failure to maintain the free exchange of people and ideas between the UK and the international community including Europe could seriously harm UK science.”
Meanwhile Peter Phillips, chief executive of Cambridge University Press, which generates 90% of its sales outside the UK, told The Bookseller: “We remain well placed to serve the world's students, teachers and researchers through our creativity, teamwork, knowledge and alignment with our customers. The full consequences of the British people's decision to leave the EU will take some time to emerge but they will not change our purpose - to advance knowledge, learning and research - nor the direction of our business.”