Celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking and four Indian-origin academics are among 150 top scientists who wrote on Thursday that Britain leaving the European Union will be a “disaster” for British universities and science.
In a letter to The Times, the scientists based at the University of Cambridge pointed to the example of Switzerland, once a popular destination for young scientists, which is desperately trying to find alternative ways to attract young talent after it voted to restrict the free movement of workers.
The four Indian-origin academics are Shankar Balasubramanian (chemistry), Harshad Badeshia (metallurgy), Partha Dasgupta (economics) and KJ Patel (molecular biology). All 150 signatories are Fellows of the Royal Society.
The letter stated: “The EU has boosted UK science in two crucial ways. First, increased funding has raised greatly the level of European science as a whole and of the UK in particular because we have a competitive edge.
“Second, we now recruit many of our best researchers from continental Europe, including younger ones who have obtained EU grants and have chosen to move with them here. Being able to attract and fund the most talented Europeans assures the future of British science and also encourages the best scientists elsewhere to come here.”
The scientists added, “If the UK leaves the EU and there is a loss of freedom of movement of scientists between the UK and Europe, it will be a disaster for UK science and universities.”
Britain is holding a referendum on its membership of the 28-nation European Union on June 23.