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University bosses to urge referendum voters to keep UK in EU

University chiefs are to back Britain's membership of the EU ahead of the in-out referendum.

Vice-chancellors will hail the "overwhelmingly positive impact" of the union as they launch a campaign alongside shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna and pro-European Tory MP Damian Green.

The move comes amid reports that David Cameron is planning to hold the decisive poll in June next year.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of the Universities UK group, is expected to tell the event in London that they must "stand up and be counted". "It is abundantly clear that the UK's membership of the European Union has an overwhelmingly positive impact on our world-leading universities, enhancing university research and teaching," she will say.

"The case for staying in Europe is about ensuring the future prosperity of the UK, it's about maximising the chances of new discoveries that enhance the society in which we live, it's about the UK's standing in the world, it's about British jobs and it's about opportunities for British people now and in the future.

Dame Julia, vice-chancellor of the University of Kent, will add: "By supporting collaboration and breaking down international barriers, the EU helps universities to carry out cutting-edge research and make discoveries that improve people's lives and enhance the UK's global influence."

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