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Brexit: UK universities overwhelmingly want the country to remain in the EU

While UK voters remain split over whether the country should leave the European Union, sentiment among the country’s universities is an entirely different story. By all indications, UK universities want the country to remain within the European Union.

Vice chancellors of nearly every major UK university – almost 100 institutions – wrote to The Independent, warning about the consequences of Brexit, a shorthand referring to the UK pulling out of the EU.

Saying they are “gravely concerned” about a potential Brexit, they warned that, “Voluntarily cutting ourselves out of the world’s largest economic bloc would undermine our position as a global leader in science and innovation, impoverish our campuses and limit opportunities for British people.”

“We believe that leaving Europe would create a difficult environment for the long-term investment in higher education and research that is necessary for the UK to maintain its position as a highly skilled and a globally competitive knowledge economy,” they added.

Polls indicate a painfully close vote on the matter, which is set to be put forward to the British people on Thursday. While The Independent noted that the ‘Remain’ camp may have retaken the lead, the close margins are unlikely to comfort or assure either side.

Concerns over a potential Brexit have long roiled the academic community in the UK. According to Sky News, Wendy Piatt, director-general of the prestigious Russell Group, pointed out that Brexit could jeopardize £500m worth of education and research grants earmarked for UK institutions from the EU. The Russell Group counts world-famous universities like Oxford and Cambridge among its members.

A Times Higher Education data review of university research funding found that newer universities would be most vulnerable to Brexit, while larger universities would not be let off the hook as well. It noted that the EU was the source of nearly a quarter of the research funding from competitive grants to Cambridge. For Oxford, that proportion was about a fifth.

Image via Flickr.

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