(Source: KCL Alumni)
(Source: KCL Alumni)

The country’s conversation this week – over the radio in the morning, at water coolers and canteens, at the dinner table in the evenings – has centred on an awkwardly compounded buzzword that now offends the eyes and ears and has begotten as many “punny” headlines as tabloid journalists can make: Brexit.

The referendum on the British Exit from the European Union has the country at the beck and call of either side of a dogged, at times ugly campaign. Throwing their 2 pence into the cacophony of opinions includes such household names as David Beckham, Brian Eno & J.K. Rowling.

Added to that list now are an assembly of leaders from 103 British universities backing “Remain”, including Kings’ own President & Principal, Ed Byrne.

In an open letter to British Voters, these Vice Chancellors et. al. impress upon the public their grave concern “about the impact of a UK exit from the EU on our universities and students.” Below is the letter in full.

To British voters,

As Vice-Chancellors of 103 universities, we are gravely concerned about the impact of a UK exit from the EU on our universities and students.

The impact of our universities on our local communities and economy should not be underestimated.  Every year, universities generate over £73 billion for the UK economy – £3.7bn of which is generated by students from EU countries, while supporting nearly 380,000 jobs. Strong universities benefit the British people – creating employable graduates and cutting-edge research discoveries that improve lives.

Our membership of the EU enhances this positive impact and makes our outstanding universities even stronger. Inside the EU, we are better able to work collaboratively on ground-breaking research in areas from cancer to climate change. EU membership supports British universities to attract the brightest and best minds from across Europe, enhancing university research and teaching and contributing to economic growth.

Voluntarily cutting ourselves out of the world’s largest economic bloc would undermine our position as a global leader in science and innovation, impoverish our campuses and limit opportunities for British people.

We believe that leaving Europe would create a difficult environment for the long-term investment in higher education and research that is necessary for the UK to maintain its position as a highly skilled and a globally competitive knowledge economy.

For us it is crystal clear that our outstanding universities – and our students – are stronger in Europe.

However Anand Menon, King’s Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, expressed his exasperation at the letter including his employer. He stated he didn’t “think universities should take a corporate position.”  Menon has also spoken out on Britain not coming to terms with the loss of empire, “it hasn’t accepted that it’s weak enough to need the EU.”

The College also receives millions of pounds of research funding from the EU – up to 30 per cent of its total funding. A recent report has raised concerns that the money could stop flowing in the event of Brexit.

The vote on the EU referendum takes place on Thursday, June 23rd.

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