Vince Cable: universities will be ‘main casualties’ of Brexit

Former minister in charge of higher education says Theresa May could have won single market concessions 

January 24, 2017
Vince Cable
Source: University of Nottingham

Universities will be the “main casualties” of the UK leaving the European Union, according to former business secretary Vince Cable.

Speaking to Times Higher Education the day after Theresa May outlined her plans for Brexit, Dr Cable also predicted that universities will probably lose the funding that they get through participation in EU research programmes, despite the prime minister hinting that the government would make remaining in them a key goal of the exit negotiations.

“Universities are going to be the main casualties of [coming out of the EU],” he said. “One [problem] is the loss of overseas students. They will [also] lose Horizon [2020 funding]. Theresa May said yesterday that she wants to keep that, but we’ll see.

“Third, there’s the insecurity of the European staff, of whom there are large numbers. Universities are worrying themselves silly with this, with good reason.”

Dr Cable also raised concerns about Ms May’s plan to remove the UK from the European single market, suggesting that it could have been possible to make a deal around the free movement of people that would have benefited universities given that other countries had “cherry-picked” on single market rules themselves in the past.

“I spent five years negotiating single market policy over things [such as] the recognition of professions,” he said. “So, if you’re a doctor, can your qualification be accepted through[out] the EU? The Germans would not accept it. They would not accept free movement applying to professional qualifications, they just opted out, they cherry-picked. Something the British are accused of doing.”

Dr Cable made the comments while speaking about a new massive open online course (Mooc) that he has led on designing, entitled The Politics of Economics and The Economics of Politicians.

He said that his motivation to set up the course, which is being hosted on FutureLearn – the Open University’s social learning platform – in conjunction with the University of Nottingham, came about through his fascination over the link between academic economists and politics, and how ideas are translated into policy.

When asked whether governments had placed too much importance on economists, Dr Cable said that he didn’t “buy the proposition” that economic arguments were “no longer valid”. He added that comments made during the EU referendum campaign that the nation had had enough of “experts” were “very stupid”.

“Clearly, most people do respect the views of scientists [and] doctors,” he said. “I know [that Donald] Trump is challenging climate change, but for the most part we do accept that if scientific and medical research comes up with evidence, most people trust those people. Even economics, in its rigorous sense, is still respected, I think. We [had] ‘experts’ in the department to advise me, and I took the view that we should listen to them.”

john.elmes@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

As the pay of BBC on-air talent is revealed, one academic comes clean about his salary

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Capsized woman and boat

Early career academics can be left to sink or swim when navigating the choppy waters of learning scholarly writing. Helen Sword says a more formal, communal approach can help everyone, especially women

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan