In a joint open letter released in this week’s edition of The Sunday Times, Oxford University’s Vice Chancellor, Louise Richardson, has expressed her support for Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU.)

The letter urges the British public to consider the impact of the UK’s withdrawal on its university system. The letter claims that among the benefits at stake are the possibility of collaboration on economically advantageous research. The signatories argue, “We are better able to collaborate with partners across Europe to carry out cutting-edge research, from medical and healthcare advances to new materials, products and services.”

The letter places a general emphasis on the economic dimension of ‘Brexit’ claiming, “This has a direct impact on our economy, driving growth, generating jobs and improving people’s lives.” In addition to the financial question, the signatories cite a reputational issue, that “Leaving would mean cutting ourselves off from established networks and would undermine the UK’s position as a global leader in science and the arts.”

Among other senior figures that joined Professor Louise Richardson are Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, and Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow president of Universities UK. While the letter states that the signatories are writing as, “As university leaders,” it is not clear if they are representing their individual opinions or the more general position of their respective institutions to the upcoming referendum.

The UK’s referendum on EU membership will take place on Thursday 23rd of June.

The letter is reproduced in full below:

Brexit will cost universities valuable education alliances

NOW the prime minister has announced the referendum date, we urge the British public to consider the vital role the EU plays in supporting our world-class universities. Inside the EU we are better able to collaborate with partners across Europe to carry out cutting-edge research, from medical and healthcare advances to new materials, products and services. In the EU the UK is also a more attractive destination for global talent, ensuring that our students are taught by the best minds from across Europe. This has a direct impact on our economy, driving growth, generating jobs and improving people’s lives. 

While no one is suggesting that UK universities could not survive outside the EU, leaving would mean cutting ourselves off from established networks and would undermine the UK’s position as a global leader in science and the arts. 

Throughout the referendum campaign, as university leaders we are committed to highlighting the value of EU membership to our universities, ensuring that a range of views are heard on campuses and debating why the EU matters now and for the future.

 Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, President, Universities UK; Vice-Chancellor, University of Kent, Professor Janet Beer, Vice-President, Universities UK; Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool, Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-President, Universities UK; Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University, Professor Sir Pete Downes, Vice-President, Universities UK; Vice-Chancellor, University of Dundee, Professor Simon Gaskell, President and Principal, Queen Mary University of London, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge, Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford, Professor Michael Arthur , President and Provost , UCL, Professor Alice Gast, President, Imperial College London, Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor, University of Exeter, Professor Craig Calhoun, Director and President, London School of Economics and Political Science, Bill Rammell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bedfordshire, Professor Julie Lydon OBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of South Wales, Professor Timothy O’Shea, Vice-Chancellor, University of Edinburgh, Professor Anton Muscatelli, Vice-Chancellor, University of Glasgow, Baroness Valerie Amos, Director, SOAS, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Aberdeen, Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Buckingham, Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor, Brunel University London, Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Vice-Chancellor, Aston University, Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln, Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Reading, Peter Horrocks CBE, Vice-Chancellor, The Open University, Professor Paul Boyle CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leicester, Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ulster, Professor Patrick Johnston, Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol, Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds, Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor, Durham University, Professor Helen Marshall, Vice-Chancellor, University of Salford, Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Derby, Professor Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor, De Montfort University, Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University, Professor Tom Inns, Director, The Glasgow School of Art, Professor Graham Upton, Vice-Chancellor, Glyndwr University, Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London, Professor Richard B Davies, Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University, Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor, University of Sheffield, Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham, Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham, Professor Gerald Pilay, Vice-Chancellor, Liverpool Hope University, Professor Judith Petts, Vice-Chancellor, University of Plymouth, Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor, Southampton Solent University, Professor Sir Paul Curran, Vice-Chancellor, City University London, Professor Gavin Henderson CBE, Principal, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Professor John Raftery, Vice-Chancellor, London Metropolitan University, Professor Cliff Allan, Vice-Chancellor, Birmingham City University, Professor John Cater, Vice-Chancellor, Edge Hill University, Professor John Vinney, Vice-Chancellor, Bournemouth University, Professor David Phoenix, Vice-Chancellor, London South Bank University, Professor Andrea Nolan OBE, Vice-Chancellor, Edinburgh Napier University, Professor Bob Cryan CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Huddersfield, Professor Craig Mahoney, Vice-Chancellor, University of the West of Scotland, Professor Aldwyn Cooper, Vice-Chancellor, Regent’s University, Professor Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor, University of Northampton, Prof Clive Mulholland, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of the Highlands and Islands, Shirley Atkinson, Vice-Chancellor, University of Sunderland, Professor Christina Slade, Vice-Chancellor, Bath Spa University, Professor Margaret House, Vice-Chancellor, Leeds Trinity University, Professor Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University, Professor Julius Weinberg, Vice-Chancellor, Kingston University, Professor Mike Thomas, Vice-Chancellor, University of Central Lancashire, Prof John Latham, Vice-Chancellor, Coventry University, Professor Paul Croney, Vice-Chancellor, Teesside University, Professor Barry Ife CBE, Principal, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor, University of Greenwich, Professor Paul Layzell, Principal, Royal Holloway University of London, Professor Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Professor Calie Pistorius, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hull, Professor Michael Farthing, Vice-Chancellor, University of Sussex, Professor Anthony Bowne, Principal, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Dr Paul Thompson, Rector, Royal College of Art, Professor Karen Stanton, Vice-Chancellor, York St John University, Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University, Professor Michael Gunn, Vice-Chancellor, Staffordshire University, Professor Ed Byrne, Principal and President, Kings College London, Professor Nigel Weatherill, Vice-Chancellor, Liverpool John Moores University, Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University, Professor Steven West, Vice-Chancellor, University of the West of England, Professor John Hughes, Vice-Chancellor, Bangor University, Professor Gerry McCormac, Vice-Chancellor, University of Stirling, Professor Stuart Reid, Principal, The Royal Veterinary College, Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton, Professor Andrew Wathey, Vice-Chancellor, University of Northumbria, Professor Pamela Gillies CBE, Glasgow Caledonian University, Professor John Joughin, Vice Chancellor, University of East London, Professor Richard Williams OBE, Vice-Chancellor, Herriot-Watt University, Professor David Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia, Professor David Green, Vice-Chancellor, University of Worcester, Professor April McMahon, Vice-Chancellor, Aberystwyth University, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Vice-Chancellor, University of London, Professor Jenny Higham, Principal, St. George’s, University of London, Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor, University of Essex, Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor, Keele University, Stephen Marston, Vice-Chancellor, University of Gloucestershire, Professor Michael J Kearney, Acting Vice-Chancellor, University of Surrey, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton, Professor Patrick Loughrey, Warden, Goldsmiths, University of London, Professor Debra Humphris Vice-Chancellor, University of Brighton


For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are run entirely by and for students. To ensure independence, we receive no funding from the University and are reliant on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, such sources are being limited significantly and we anticipate a tough time ahead – for us and fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, please consider donating. We really appreciate any support you’re able to provide; it’ll all go towards helping with our running costs. Even if you can't support us monetarily, please consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues - it all helps!

Thank you!