Universities urged to be ‘powerful voice’ on benefits of EU membership

Dame Julia Goodfellow, Universities UK president-elect, calls for higher education to ‘stand up and be counted’ in EU referendum debate

July 27, 2015

European Union membership helps the UK’s universities “carry out cutting-edge research and make discoveries that improve people’s lives”, a senior vice-chancellor is set to say.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, the University of Kent vice-chancellor and UUK president-elect, will call for universities to “stand up and be counted” in the EU referendum debate as UUK launches its Universities for Europe campaign today.

The launch event will also include speeches from Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business secretary, and the pro-European Conservative MP Damian Green, chairman of the Conservative Party's European Mainstream group.

Dame Julia will say: “It is abundantly clear that the UK’s membership of the European Union has an overwhelmingly positive impact on our world-leading universities, enhancing university research and teaching.

“UK universities are at the heart of the biggest knowledge producing region in the world – and we all benefit from that – individuals, the economy and society.”

And she will add: “By supporting collaboration and breaking down international barriers, the EU helps universities to carry out cutting-edge research and make discoveries that improve people’s lives and enhance the UK’s global influence.

“The EU brings people together, helping to attract top talent to contribute to UK higher education and providing life-changing opportunities abroad for UK students and researchers to build global networks and enhance their cultural understanding.”

Dame Julia will also call for universities to be a “powerful and positive voice on the benefits of EU membership”.

In a cover feature on the potential impact of a Brexit earlier this month, Times Higher Education reported on warnings from José Manuel Barroso, former president of the European Commission, that leaving the EU would have major consequences for UK universities.

“I believe that if the UK is no longer a member of the EU, there will certainly be a loss of research funding,” he said, adding that there would also be “damage to faculty and student mobility”.

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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