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Universities join together in support of Vote Remain

PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 June 2016

UCS Provost Richard Lister (right) joins remain campaigners on the waterfront for Boris Johnson's visit to Ipswich.

UCS Provost Richard Lister (right) joins remain campaigners on the waterfront for Boris Johnson's visit to Ipswich.

Academics from universities across the region have today come together to urge a Remain vote in Thursday's referendum on Britain's future in the European Union.

On the day that the provost and chief executive of UCS Richard Lister puts his case for remaining in the EU in a letter, hundreds of academics and scientists from across the region have signed a statement urging the same vote.

The news comes as 10 Nobel prize-winning economists unite to say that “the economic arguments are clearly in favour of remaining in the EU”.

The 100 academics from the region have signed a joint statement saying that “the interests of British universities and the knowledge economy they represent” are best served by staying in the EU.

They include 19 from the University of Essex, 17 from the University of East Anglia and 66 from the University of Cambridge.

On top of this over 500 scientists from the East of England have signed a joint statement saying leaving the EU would “stifle our science, innovation and jobs”.

Businesses and universities in the East of England have received more than £250million from the EU science fund since 2014 and are expected to receive a total of £1.2billion by 2020 if the UK votes to remain in the EU.

Suffolk MP Dr Therese Coffey, who has a PhD in chemistry, said: “Being in the EU is vital for having strong science and a successful economy in the East of England.

“It means more investment, more innovation and working together across borders to solve the big challenges we face, from cancer to heart disease.

“The choice in this referendum comes down to who you trust, the experts and academics or those leading the Leave campaign.

“I hope voters will think carefully about the long-term impact of their decision, because there is no going back.

“The overwhelming evidence is that we are stronger, safer and better off in Europe.”

The Provost and Chief Executive of UCS – soon to become the University of Suffolk – has today written a letter calling on everyone concerned about the future of higher education to vote to remain a member of the EU:

Dear Sir

The EADT reported prominently last month the very welcome news that Suffolk, is, at last, to have its own independent university.

As we near the EU Referendum, I need to stress the importance to all universities of continued EU membership including our new University of Suffolk.

It is quite clear that remaining in the EU is strongly in the best interest of universities and their students.

As Universities UK have stated “the UK’s membership of the European Union makes our outstanding universities even stronger, which in turn benefits everyone in the UK.”

Here we already have a strong ERASMUS European exchange programme for our students, a scheme which nationally has benefited over 200,000 students, boosting their job prospects as well as enriching their university experience.

We have recently signed an arrangement with Maastricht School of Management to deliver an Executive MBA of extremely high prestige.

We have new and exciting developing links with our partners at the University of Artois in Arras and already we have a significant number of EU students here at the University.

The inevitable loss of such numbers would give us a significant funding challenge.

In terms of student mobility, access to world leading research and ideas and our ability to drive economic growth in our local communities it is essential that we remain inside the EU.

Universities are the home of clear critical thinking based on evidence – and the clear evidence, from experts, whether it be our economy, security, jobs, health or education is that our future is more likely to be better inside the European Union.

In the face of that evidence a vote to leave would be a gamble which may impact very negatively on our economy, growth, skills and education and would be enormously damaging to our young people.

This is not a vote for the next five years which can be reversed. It is a vote which will affect our children and grandchildren.

Those future generations, on the balance of every piece of reputable evidence, will thank us for remaining within, shaping and leading the European Union.

Richard Lister

Provost and Chief Executive, University Campus Suffolk

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