Placing the European Parliament in charge of our higher education sector is like "entrusting the Chuckle Brothers with stress-testing a suspension bridge"by Jamie Martin / May 30, 2016 / Leave a comment
Earlier this year, over 100 vice-chancellors signed an open letter in support of European Union membership. Many of them have issued dire warnings about what will happen to our universities in the event of Brexit. But academics and students need to think for themselves. They are being led over the top by a short-sighted vice-chancellor class into a more integrated and politicised EU. They should vote for a more open, innovative and internationalist future—and that means voting to Leave. If Britain drops out of the EU, universities will receive more funding, access to a wider pool of international students, and enjoy a regulatory regime that will promote better research.
The funding question is simple. Take the often cited example of Horizon 2020, the €80bn EU programme for research and innovation. Britain does receive money from it—but the programme is open to non-EU countries as well. Britain has the only EU universities in the world’s top 20 (as ranked by Times Higher Education) and the most Nobel prizes of any member-state—the idea that it would be kicked out of Horizon 2020 as an act of political sabotage is as unserious as it is impracticable.
Leaving would also mean that EU students would be charged full international fees, ending the indefensible practice of charging foreign students differently according to their nationality. This would create a windfall for universities that could be spent on scholarships for the brightest or help for students from poorer backgrounds. Furthermore, Vote Leave has been clear that some of the money currently spent on EU membership would in future be dedicated to scientific research.
Universities would also get access to a broader talent pool of students and faculty. The current visa policy, under which the worst German student gets automatic access while things are difficult if not impossible for the brilliant Indian scholar, is as morally flawed as it is academically harmful. Outside the EU, we will use our control over immigration to grant more visas for students and academics. Furthermore, all nationalities would be treated equally, giving greater access for UK universities to talent from Asian countries (all of the world’s top five school systems for science and mathematics are in east Asia) or North America’s leading universities.
EU regulations are even more…