Brexit Will Make the UK Dumber

A government report urges protection for British universities post-Brexit.
April 25, 2017, 1:20pm
Portico Statue. Image: University College London

The last thing Britain needs right now is less intelligent people, but a post-Brexit brain drain from Britain's academic institutions could significantly hurt the UK's university sector, according to a new report from British politicians.

This, in turn, will damage the international competitiveness and long-term success of the UK's universities, the report warns.

European scientists and academics working and studying in the UK were already on unstable ground following last June's Brexit vote, but Prime Minister Theresa May's shock announcement of a snap election has caused further worries.


Rob Davidson, executive director of pro-EU science consortium Scientists for EU, told Motherboard in an email last week, "For science, the fear is that [the election] will give [May] a blank cheque to take us into Extremist Brexit and out of EU science."

Davidson told Motherboard that May's plans to remove free movement and cut ties to the European Court of Justice make it impossible for scientists in the UK to participate in EU science programs. "This blank cheque election offers no hope for UK science," he said.

Uncertainties over the residency rights for staff at universities is a particular concern in Tuesday's report, with the Commons Education Committee arguing that the immigration system after Brexit should cater for the needs of higher education, rather than obstructing movement of people from and to Britain's universities, like it is currently on course to do.

The report also concludes that the government should remove EU students from Britain's net migration target, effectively eliminating a cap on how many European students can study in the UK.

Read more: The EU Had a Scientific Collaboration Problem Long Before Brexit

Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the Education Committee, said in media statement, "The Government must act urgently to address the uncertainty over EU staff and avert the risk of a damaging 'brain drain' of talent from our shores."

Britain's relationship with Europe's scientific collaboration program, Horizon 2020, is also in doubt because of Brexit, and the report advises the British government to commit to Horizon 2020 and future research frameworks to ensure ongoing research collaboration with the EU.

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