Britain will miss out on some of the best and brightest graduates if the country votes to leave Europe, new research claims.
While graduates from the EU make up just a small proportion overall of those who have studied at undergraduate level, they are more likely to achieve first class degrees and earn higher salaries, making up a more "high-performing" part of the UK workforce.
The flow of students would "almost certainly" be reduced if Britain were to vote to leave the European Union, according to new research from the Institute for Social and Economic Research, with a knock on impact on the economy.
“Although EU students make up only five per cent of the undergraduate population studying in UK universities, they are twice as likely to continue on to post-graduate study as their British friends and make up a substantial part of our postgraduate population - nearly one in eight of all research students are from the EU,” said Dr Renee Luthra, an author of the study.
“Of those in postgraduate research degrees, two-thirds are studying Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects of vital importance to the UK economy. The uncertainty surrounding a vote to leave the EU would almost certainly reduce the flow of these high-performing students, particularly in the short-term transition period.”
Head of the Vote Leave campaign Matthew Elliott insisted the UK would remain an attractive place to study to European students if Britain were not a part of the union.
He told the Observer: “The UK is home to three of the world’s top 10 universities. Countries in the rest of the EU don’t come close. As such, after we vote Leave we would still attract the brightest students from not only the EU, but right across the world.”