Vice-chancellors representing the whole UK university sector have signed a letter in a national newspaper saying membership of the European Union is “central” to their institutions’ success.
Three days before the European elections, in which the United Kingdom Independence Party is predicted to poll highly, the open letter published today says that UK universities benefit from £1.2 billion in EU research funding every year.
This funding “supports UK-based research and transnational research projects which pool knowledge to solve social and economic challenges in a way that no country acting alone could do”, argue the 23 vice-chancellors currently on the Universities UK board.
“EU programmes facilitate the mobility of researchers, staff and students, providing opportunities for young people and contributing to the excellence of our research base,” the letter, published in The Times, says.
“Without an influential voice in the development of EU policy, the UK would lose its ability to influence policy affecting research and higher education. As university leaders, we are committed to ensuring that these benefits of EU membership to the British people and to our universities are properly understood, and that our voices are heard in the debate about EU reform,” it concludes.
In a separate development, a Europe-wide network of research intensive universities including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London has issued a call for changes to the EU’s research agenda following the European elections.
In particular, the League of European Research Universities wants the social sciences and humanities (SSH) to be better included in the European research area.
“Too often the advancement of knowledge is focused on technological innovations, ignoring the fundamental contributions delivered by SSH,” it says in a statement.
The league also suggests a comment framework for research misconduct, including “the development of, for example, common principles or standards, codes of conduct, handling of misconduct allegations and authorship, which may or may not exist to varying degrees at the national and institutional levels”.
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