EU students 'vital' to regional economy and jobs

Posted by ap507 at Apr 08, 2016 12:05 AM |
Professor Paul Boyle comments on how membership of the EU is good for universities and society at large

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What interests me most in the referendum debate is not the political posturing, but the evidence. And it is clear that membership of the European Union makes our outstanding British universities even stronger.

A new report out today reveals that EU students at UK universities generate £3.7bn for the UK economy and support over 34,000 jobs in all corners of the country.  In the East Midlands alone, EU students generated £143m for the regional economy and 1,341 jobs. In addition, the international, outward-looking culture that EU students bring makes an important academic and cultural contribution to university life which, in turn, benefits UK students.

It is no surprise that Universities across the UK are united in their view that leaving the European Union would be detrimental to academia and society at large.

At the University of Leicester we also know that international collaboration increases the quality and impact of the cutting-edge research we undertake, and in a world where many of the challenges we face are global, from cancer to climate change, it is more important than ever that we minimise barriers to working with international partners to share expertise and knowledge. This leads to innovations and discoveries that boost our economy, create new jobs and improve people’s lives.

Only this week we announced that a University of Leicester scientist has won a prestigious £1.4 million award from the EU. Dr Richard Alexander, from the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant which is awarded to outstanding mid-career researchers with "ambitious and innovative" projects. The funding will help to build a team of researchers and resources at Leicester in order to increase our understanding of extra-solar planetary systems.

Furthermore, the strong academic reputation of British universities within the EU is a magnet to recruit the best brains.  More than 1 in 7 of the workforce in UK higher education come from the rest of Europe because we are able to recruit freely across member countries.

I am unequivocal – membership of the EU is good for our universities and society at large.

  • Professor Paul Boyle is President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester

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