14/10/2015 11:49 BST | Updated 14/10/2016 06:12 BST

An Open Letter to Megan Dunn, President of the NUS

Dear Megan Dunn,

I hope this open letter will lead to politically aware Eurosceptic students coming out of hiding.

From experience, going against the grain, and in particularly the directives of the National Union of Students (NUS), is frowned upon strongly by your representatives, and I apologise in advance for not agreeing with your views.

Let's take your article from The Independent as the centre piece for this discussion.

First of all, you say "current and future generations have greater opportunities when we are connected to countries we share experiences and resources with." Well, I whole heartedly agree with you on this.

Leaving the EU does not mean the United Kingdom will pack up its bags, close the doors and refuse to interact with anyone else. In fact, it means quite the opposite. Switzerland, for example, is not a member of the EU, yet outside of the G20 they are one of the highest importers and exporters of goods to nations inside the Union.

In fact, to name a few, the Faroe Islands, Albania and South Korea all have smaller populations than the UK, yet still have their own trade agreements with the European Union. By leaving we could not only trade with the EU on our own terms, but also with those outside it like China, the US and Canada.

Regarding the Erasmus scheme; again I can't help but agree with you.

For those who can afford the travelling and living costs, it has offered a fantastic chance to study abroad, and long may it continue! As head of the NUS you should be aware that the Erasmus programme does not require EU membership. Erasmus+ is not limited to just EU states, or even just to the European Economic Area. The programme covers over thirty countries, including Macedonia and Lichtenstein, and has partnerships with many others such as Russia. In fact, its website states that "nearly every country in the world" is able to participate; EU or non-EU member state.

Next you mention EU funding providing £1bn to Britain's Universities, yet you fail to mention this comes through the Horizon 2020 scheme - a scheme which provides funds to Iceland, Norway, Turkey and Israel. You do not need to be a member of the EU to benefit from this. Let's not forget that the EU costs Britain around £20 billion a year, and that's not including red-tape legislation which damages the prospects of many small businesses in the UK. If we vote to leave, the British government will have more money to fund education itself, as well as many other public services.

Again, you're right in saying young people enjoy travelling - I for one spent time in Barcelona when I was a student. However, leaving the European Union doesn't have to mean the end of the free movement of students. Both Norway and Switzerland have their own, separate free movement agreements.

Thailand, Australia and the USA are all gap year favourites for British students, none of these are inside the EU, yet thousands travel to these destinations to travel or work every year. Making out young people will be fenced inside the borders of the UK should we vote 'Leave' in 2017 is plain scaremongering and just not true.

Megan, it just isn't sensible to have an open-door, unlimited mass immigration policy when we have one million youngsters in this country unemployed, many of whom have just left the education system you're meant to stand up for. A disturbing poll for the Prince's Trust showed that nearly a million young people in Britain feel like they 'have nothing to live for.' Graduates unable to find employment, or who can only find low paid work - perhaps because wages have been forced downwards by the migrant influx into the UK - will, I am sure, make up a fair percentage of this "quiet desperation" generation.

It's about supply and demand. We focus on getting the supply of young people we already have in Britain - regardless of where they are from - trained and into the work force. Then, when the time comes, we allow others entry into Britain to fill the necessary gaps.

Leaving the EU means we can have equal immigration from all over the world. Leaving the EU means we won't pick someone from Germany or France over someone from China or Africa, just because the latter "aren't European enough".

You say those who want out just "fear today's modern world." I for one fear a world where we are locked behind the borders of the European Union, forced to abide by directives and legislation created by bureaucrats we haven't voted for.

The argument for leaving the EU is not one of negativity and pessimism, but hope, optimism, aspiration and entrepreneurialism. My world view focuses on how, once we leave the EU, Britain can once more become a global player, rather than simply one stuck in a backwards-looking European Union.

As someone who represents the student voice, you should have considered the views of all the students you stand up for before deciding which camp you supported. This would have been the more democratic thing to do.

And while we're on democracy, have you ever looked into the European Council voting records? The UK has not managed to block a single proposal since 1996, despite attempting to do so 72 times. Please explain how anything positive can occur in a supposedly "democratic parliament" where we are constantly outvoted 27-1.

Megan, I want to leave you with one final point to ponder. If the Great British Public decide to vote to stay in the European Union one thing is for certain - our future children and our grandchildren will have to grow up in a Britain with less democracy and less power than ever before. This referendum is not about staying in or leaving; it's about going against the status quo and quitting the Union, or being entrenched in more Brussels doctrine than ever before. About being dictated to or dictating our own path.

I am happy to have an open public debate on the matter with you should you wish.

It's time to Get Britain Out.


Rob Comley

Researcher for the cross-party grassroots Eurosceptic campaign group Get Britain Out