The leaders of 150 British universities have warned in an open letter to their country’s parliament of the negative effect the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU would have on academic institutions, the BBC reported on Friday.
They said Brexit was “one of the biggest threats our universities have ever faced” and they would need decades to recover from it.
With no more access to European research networks, British universities would face a rapid deterioration of their quality, with the attendant effect on the 21 billion pounds they inject into the country’s economy each year, the university leaders argued, adding that Brexit would also lead to a brain drain from the UK to the continent.
According to the university leaders, connections that are crucial to research are threatened in areas such as cancer treatments, technology development and climate change, with grave repercussions for exchanges of students, professors and knowledge.
The head of the Universities UK Federation called for “solid guarantees” that the UK would retain access to the European research network.
Figures from 24 universities show a 3% drop this year in the number of European students registered at British universities, which could be a result of the continuing uncertainty over Brexit.