PHOTO: University of Birmingham, one of 24 UK universities warning of consequences of Brexit

Through its Chair and Chief Executive, the Russell Group of 24 leading UK universities has issued a statement about the Leave vote in Britain’s European Union referendum:

Leaving the EU will have a profound effect on our universities, who have long thrived on global collaboration and international interaction – be it through European staff and students coming to our universities, or when our best researchers work with colleagues across Europe to tackle big social and scientific challenges.

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Our universities have, therefore, always warmly welcomed people from different cultures, ethnicities and beliefs. Embracing this very diversity is vital to our success, fundamental to our values and enriches life on campus. So we are especially concerned by reports of increasing xenophobic incidents and how this could impact on our communities. We simply will not tolerate abuse of this sort and any student or staff member who experiences racism or xenophobia on or off our campuses can be assured this will be taken extremely seriously. Now more than ever we should ensure our campuses are places where diversity is welcomed, cherished and respected.

It is essential to remember that in terms of our global outlook nothing has changed – we have not yet left the EU and we are just as open and welcoming to students, staff and ideas as we were before the referendum. We have already reassured current staff and students that their rights to work and study here will continue for the foreseeable future and we can still participate in cross-European collaborations and bid for EU funding. We are already working closely with the Government to ensure the best possible outcome from upcoming negotiations and UK policy decisions for universities and the research community.