If the U.K. decides to leave the European Union (EU), it would have serious ramifications for British science, Stephen Hawking and fellow academics have warned.
Along with Hawking, over 150 fellows of the Royal Society, including three Nobel laureates, have signed a letter sent to U.K. newspaper, The Times, coming out in favor of staying in the EU.
"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," the letter to The Times reads.
In the letter, academics outline that increased funding has greatly benefited U.K. and European scientific research, adding that Europe remains a fundamental asset as the science industry recruits "many of (its) best researchers from continental Europe."
"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."
Following years of debate, U.K. citizens will get a chance to decide whether they want to stay in the European Union on June 23, 2016. The argument centers on a number of key subjects, including sovereignty, economic governance, competitiveness and immigration.
Several leading figures and organizations have come out with their own opinion on a "Brexit", while others insist they remain neutral on the matter, including the Bank of England.
In the letter, the academics used Switzerland as an example of a country going it alone in Europe, saying despite the country paying into the EU, it is currently struggling to attract young talent, because of its limited access to EU funds. This was due to a vote to restrict the free movement of workers.
"Investment in science is as important for the long-term prosperity and security of the UK as investment in infrastructure projects, farming or manufacturing; and the free movement of scientists is as important for science as free trade is for market economics."
—To read more of The Times' report, click here.