Hard Brexit could threaten Britain's universities

PUBLISHED: 15:35 11 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:35 11 January 2017

PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

"Disaster" is looming for Britain's universities if the Government push ahead with a Hard Brexit, academics have warned.

Already applications from the European Union have tumbled by 14% at Cambridge University for undergraduate courses, the Education Select Committee was told.

Hostility towards immigrants, devaluation of the pound and uncertainty over research projects have also deterred postgraduates from heading to the UK, MPs were told.

Alistair Fitt, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, said: “It would probably be the biggest disaster for the universities sector in many years.”

John Latham, vice-chancellor of Coventry University, said it would make British universities “extremely uncompetitive”.

And Catharine Barnard, EU law professor at the University of Cambridge, added: “It promptly cuts off the flow of excellent people who are coming at the moment.”

Prof Barnard said there had already been a drop in EU student applications: “This year we have seen at Cambridge a 14% reduction in the number of applications from the European Union at undergraduate level, although I should say the number of applications from EU students at postgraduate level are up.

“In respect of those who have declined an offer from Cambridge at postgraduate level, we have put a question in the so-called decliners survey to say ‘what was it that dissuaded you from coming?’

“Those who answered the question offered a range of factors from a concern about anti-immigrant sentiment to devaluation of the pound and the fact that their scholarships would be worth less, although obviously not in the UK, and uncertainty over future research collaboration.

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