Brexit Statement for London Higher Europe

Britain’s exit from the European Union will put unparalleled pressure on the Higher Education sector in the UK. Any limitations on the ability of staff and students to work and study in the UK would be disastrous for certain subject areas; languages, the creative arts and medicine in particular. In these areas, EU students and staff can account for more than a quarter of total numbers. These staff are not just academics but technicians, musicians and the whole range of staff forming the backbone of any institution. For certain degree courses there would simply be too few students for a course to be viable. The outcome of this would be a reduction in mutual cultural exchange and development that would undermine the international foundations of modern higher education. In a time of uncertainty, what is clear is that the European Union will continue to provide a strong vehicle for universities to easily collaborate with one another. The benefits of this include exchanging the best students and staff and draw in perspectives from across more than 30 different countries to drive ground-breaking research and high quality teaching.

The UK government must ensure that this continues to be the case, despite its pivot away from a globally-connected continent and into the unknown. The reason for this is not only found in the benefits to the UK economy of a strong and well-connected higher education sectorbut because inclusivity, unity and cross-border collaboration signify a commitment to the deeper values on which a modern United Kingdom is based.  Any replacement for the funding gap that will arise through restricted participation in the EU’s research programmes must be sufficiently couched in an international framework. The huge variety of networks that universities in London currently benefit from as a result of our position within the EU are key drivers to innovation that must be allowed to continue.

Britain has earned a world-leading foothold in higher education and research excellence globally, and our exit from the European Union threatens the innovation, economic growth and soft power that flows from this. At any one time, one in seven world leaders has studied at a UK university. Our reputation as a culturally diverse and multi-talented sector serves the UK well, but can only continue to do so if we have sufficient access to EU staff, students and research collaboration opportunities.