On the 23 June the UK will hold a referendum on its membership of the European Union. Whilst the wider national debate rumbles on, one thing is clear: higher education wants in. From an open letter written to the Sunday Times by 100 UK University Vice-Chancellors, including ours, to policy passed at Bristol SU’s AMM, there is overwhelming support within the sector to remain. The sector recognises the benefits of EU membership and has a general sense of trepidation about the consequences of a Brexit.
Here are the reasons why I believe that if a diverse, internationally recognised and research-led education is important to you that you should vote to remain in June:
Student and staff mobility - the true value of higher education lies in the opportunity it gives you to explore, experience and challenge diversity of opinion and learn from and about others. If you surround yourself with those who agree with you, or have the same experiences as you, that opportunity is severely limited. The UK’s membership of the EU allows for ease of mobility of students and staff creating that diverse body of people. You may say “but plenty of students and staff make it from outside the EU.” Well, yes, but not easily and increasingly less so. Current UK immigration laws are making it harder and harder for international students and staff to come to the UK and more and more they are choosing to go elsewhere as a result.
ERASMUS+ program - this european wide scheme provides thousands of students with the opportunity to spend a year of their degree program studying abroad. Loss of access to this scheme would severely affect students’ experience of higher education. This move would also severely impact upon the University’s plan to increase the global experience of its students, with this scheme seen as an important way of doing so.
Research funding - a research intensive university such as Bristol is dependent upon research funding to uphold its reputation as a world-leading institution and to maintain financial viability. The UK benefits hugely from EU research funding, data shows that between 2007-2013 the UK contributed €5.4 billion to EU research funds but received €8.8 billion in return.
In the end whichever way you decide to vote on 23 June the most important thing is that you do and can. Check out Max’s advice on registration and making use of postal voting if you’re away.