Principal of the University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow Principal, Chair of the Russell Group and top economist Anton Muscatelli has written an open letter to students about Brexit for The Glasgow Guardian
It goes without saying that Brexit is the single biggest public crisis we’ve had to face in living memory. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve been proud to have taken a strong stance against leaving the European Union, in a personal capacity, and to highlight the ways in which the UK turning its back on our European neighbours would leave us diminished in every way.
Almost inevitably, much of the discussion has focussed around the undoubtedly huge economic damage which will be inflicted if Brexit goes ahead, as well as the specific impact on the Higher Education sector, through lost funding and access to pan-European networks.
However, I’ve also been clear – and this is perhaps the most depressing aspect of Brexit – that there would be a huge social and cultural cost.
European researchers contribute to quite literally all of the world-leading work undertaken at the University. In our research from the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences to Science, Engineering and the Biomedical Sciences. In our innovation in areas ranging from Precision Medicine and Quantum Technology, to nanofabrication, to our contributions to sectors like the Cultural and Creative Industries and FinTech – all of which are major planks of Scotland’s economy.
Our lecture halls and seminar rooms are enriched by the diversity of our European students, offering distinct and varied perspectives which only enhance the educational experiences of our students who come to us from Scotland and across the UK.
I have also always argued that being a part of Europe also makes us more international and open in every way to every nation around the world. There is no trade off in being open to Europe and being open to the whole world outside Europe. Our many students from outside Europe equally enhance our diversity and make us a truly global and inclusive community.
And the culture of our campus and our City would be simply unrecognisable were it not for the impact of our staff and students from the Continent and beyond.
Simply put, EU nationals as part of that international dimension of our University have made our University and the City we serve what it is today – and on behalf of the University, I assure each and every one of you that we will do everything we possibly can to ensure that we are able to continue to welcome people from across Europe to live, work and study in Glasgow, and that we will continue to support all of those students and staff who are already part of our University community.
Our University was founded more than half a millennium ago, very much in the European tradition. We welcomed students from other European universities immediately after our foundation in 1451. Whatever the outcome of the current political crisis, we will continue to be such an institution – proudly Glaswegian, proudly Scottish and proudly European. Indeed a global University with an outward looking perspective and an open and inclusive ethos, committed as much to playing our part in solving the major international problems of the day as we are to being full and active citizens of Glasgow.
We will remain a bastion of excellence, of multiculturalism and of internationalism – and the contribution of our European students and colleagues will always be not only welcomed and acknowledged, but heralded as a social good in itself, making our City a better, more vibrant place.
And regardless of the outcome of the Brexit process, our European staff, students and alumni - and indeed all of our community that comes here from outside the UK - will always be able to call our campus home.