EU referendum: An open letter to UK voters from leaders of 103 British universities

'Cutting ourselves out of the world’s largest economic bloc would undermine our position as a global leader in science and innovation'

Monday 20 June 2016 23:45 BST
Punters on the river Cam in Cambridge
Punters on the river Cam in Cambridge (Getty)

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.

All you need to know about the EU referendum

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.


1. Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, Vice-Chancellor, University of Kent

2. Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool

3. Professor Julie Lydon, Vice-Chancellor, University of South Wales

4. Professor Colin Riordan, President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

5. Professor Sir Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Dundee

6. Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Glasgow

7. Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice Chancellor, University of Birmingham

8. Professor Simon Gaskell, President and Principal, Queen Mary University of London

9. Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Reading

10. Professor Sir Ian Diamond Vice-Chancellor University of Aberdeen

11. Professor Paul O’Prey, Vice-Chancellor, University of Roehampton

12. Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor, Brunel University London

13. Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor, University of Exeter

14. Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Office, University of the West of England

15. Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice- Chancellor, The University of Nottingham

16. Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London

17. Professor David Phoenix OBE, Vice-Chancellor, London South Bank University

18. Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton

19. Professor Helen Marshall, Vice-Chancellor, University of Salford

20. Dr Paul Thompson, Rector, Royal College of Art

21. John Latham, Vice-Chancellor, Coventry University

22. Professor Aldwyn Cooper, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Regent’s University London

23. Professor Baron Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

24. Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Edinburgh Napier University

25. Professor Barry Ife, Principal, Guildhall School of Music and Drama

26. Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University

27. Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University

28. Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor, University of Greenwich

29. Professor Sir Paul Curran, Vice-Chancellor, City University London

30. Professor Karen Stanton, Vice-Chancellor, York St John University

31. Professor Robert Allison, Vice-Chancellor and President, Loughborough University

32. Professor Anthony Bowne, Principal, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

33. Professor Iain Martin, Vice-Chancellor, Anglia Ruskin University

34. Professor Bob Cryan CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Huddersfield

35. Professor Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor, De Montfort University

36. Professor Patrick Johnston, Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University Belfast

37. Professor April McMahon, Vice-Chancellor, Aberystwyth University

38. Bill Rammell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Bedfordshire

39. Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University

40. Stephen Marston, Vice-Chancellor, University of Gloucestershire

41. Professor Edward Byrne, President and Principal, King’s College London

42. Professor John Joughin, Vice-Chancellor, University of East London

43. Professor Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds

44. Baroness Valerie Amos CH, Director, SOAS University of London

45. Professor Gavin Henderson CBE, Principal, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

46. Professor Andrew Wathey CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Northumbria University

47. Patrick Loughrey, Warden, Goldsmiths University of London

48. Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Strathclyde

49. Dr Maria Hinfelaar, Vice-Chancellor, Glyndwr University

50. Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln

51. Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford

52. Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, Middlesex University

53. Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Leicester

54. Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Buckingham

55. Professor Peter John, Vice-Chancellor, University of West London

56. Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Derby

57. Professor Peter Strike, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cumbria

58. Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor, Keele University

59. Professor Richard A Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University

60. Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge

61. Professor Stuart Reid, Principal, Royal Veterinary College University of London

62. Professor Julius Weinberg, Vice-Chancellor, Kingston University London

63. Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor, Durham University

64. Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal, The University of Edinburgh

65. Professor Paul Croney, Vice-Chancellor, Teesside University

66. Professor Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Northampton

67. Professor Mark Smith, Vice-Chancellor, Lancaster University

68. Professor Michael Farthing, Vice-Chancellor, University of Sussex

69. Professor Richard B. Davies, Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University

70. Professor Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University

71. Professor Jenny Higham, Principal, St George’s, University of London

72. Professor Geoffrey Petts, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Westminster

73. Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor, Southampton Solent University

74. Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost, University College London

75. Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton

76. Professor John Hughes, Vice-Chancellor, Bangor University

77. Professor Petra Wend, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Queen Margaret University Edinburgh

78. Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Bristol

79. Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Vice-Chancellor, Aston University

80. Professor Michael Thomas, Vice-Chancellor, University of Central Lancashire

81. Professor David Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia

82. Professor Paul Layzell, Vice-Chancellor, Royal Holloway, University of London

83. Professor Judith Petts, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Plymouth

84. Professor Liz Barnes, Vice Chancellor, Staffordshire University

85. Professor Calie Pistorius, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hull

86. Professor Craig Calhoun, Vice-Chancellor, London School of Economics and Political Science

87. Professor David Green, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Worcester

88. Professor Nigel Weatherill, Vice-Chancellor, Liverpool John Moores University

89. Professor John Raftery, Vice-Chancellor, London Metropolitan University

90. Professor Gerald Pillay, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Liverpool Hope University

91. Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor University of Stirling

92. Professor Christina Slade , Bath Spa University

93. Professor Keith Burnett, Vice Chancellor and President, University of Sheffield

94. Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of the West of Scotland

95. Professor Sir Andrew Likierman, Dean, London Business School

96. Shirley Atkinson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Sunderland

97. Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor, University of Essex

98. Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor, University of Brighton

99. Professor Joy Carter, Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester

100. Professor Helen Marshall, Vice-Chancellor, University of Salford

101. Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Vice-Chancellor, University of London

102. Professsor G.Q Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Surrey

103. Professor Alice Gast, President, Imperial College London

The EU referendum debate has so far been characterised by bias, distortion and exaggeration. So until 23 June we we’re running a series of question and answer features that explain the most important issues in a detailed, dispassionate way to help inform your decision.

What is Brexit and why are we having an EU referendum?

Does the UK need to take more control of its sovereignty?

Could the UK media swing the EU referendum one way or another?

Will the UK benefit from being released from EU laws?

Will we gain or lose rights by leaving the European Union?

Will Brexit mean that Europeans have to leave the UK?

Will leaving the EU lead to the break-up of the UK?

What will happen to immigration if there's Brexit?

Will Brexit make the UK more or less safe?

Will the UK benefit from being released from EU laws?

Will leaving the EU save taxpayers money and mean more money for the NHS?

What will Brexit mean for British tourists booking holidays in the EU?

Will Brexit help or damage the environment?

Will Brexit mean that Europeans have to leave the UK?

What will Brexit mean for British expats in Europe?

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