Oxford University released a statement Friday morning announcing the University Council’s position on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Though the University has previously indicated support for the UK retaining its membership, this marks its first official declaration.
The statement reads, “As a world-leading University, Oxford has for many years carried out research on the place of Europe in British public life (through the work of several of its academic departments and institutes such as its European Studies Centre). The University welcomes the opportunity to participate in the current debate on the EU Referendum through that research.
“Membership of the EU currently benefits the University in a number of ways. The mobility that EU membership affords, which enables staff and students from across the EU to come to Oxford, and Oxford staff and students to work and study in Europe, is central to our Strategic Plan. This contains at its heart the exchange of ideas that strengthens our ability to contribute to society and to the national and local economy, and provides intellectual benefit in partner universities and research institutes. The EU facilitates our participation in pan-European research collaborations; enables us to contribute to the development of EU research policy to the benefit of the UK as a whole; and provides us with access to EU research funding (of some £66m in 2014/15). All this serves our vision of the University of Oxford as a global hub for intellectual engagement.
“While recognising that individual members of the University will hold different views on the Referendum, and while encouraging open debate on the issue, the University’s Council wishes to affirm the value that the UK’s membership of the EU provides to the University.”
The “Brexit” debate has proved divisive at both national level, revealing rifts within the governing Conservative Party, and at Oxford, where both an Oxford Students for Europe (OSFE) and an Oxford Students for Britain (OSFB) group have been created.
But sentiment is not as divided at Oxford as it is in Britain. In a survey conducted during Hilary, Cherwell found that 80 per cent of students wished to remain while only 13 per cent wished to exit the EU.
OSFE and OSFB have been contacted for comment.