Sunday, October 23, 2016
A real Brexit would be a tragedy for academia
I spent two and a half years in London with a EU postdoctoral fellowship. I had a labour contract like the ones I've had in Spain. As a European worker, I had the same rights as everybody else. In London and other places in the UK there were and there are still hundreds, probably thousands of academics from other European countries. If those in favor of Brexit prevail and achieve something resembling a hard Brexit, that will no longer be possible. That will be very negative for all. It will be a big loss for all of us, European academics, because we will cease to enjoy the freedom that has always been the norm in British universities. And it will also be very negative for these universities and for British society at large. The history of institutions like the London School of Economics, Oxford or Cambridge would be very different without the presence and contribution of academics from all over Europe. As Martin Paul said after the referendum "Brexit will limit the mobility of researchers, educators and students. The UK will join the ranks of other countries such as Switzerland, the US or Russia. This also may not be a huge problem. What I am more concerned about is that the common European academic landscape is coming under threat. Up until now, it always felt that the EU was our “academic homeland”. It didn’t matter where you come from; it’s been a united Europe for our world. I predict that a referendum under British academics would have resulted in a big win for the anti-Brexit forces. But others have dominated the vote and I am concerned that it could be just the beginning: other countries may follow."