By Jonathan Davies

Britain's universities have thrown their weight of support behind the campaign to keep the UK in the EU.

As the EU referendum's pro-Europe campaign gets underway, Universities UK, which represents more than 130 universities in Britain, will support the "overwhelmingly positive impact" of the European Union.

Alongside shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna and pro-Europe Conservative MP Damian Green, Dame Julie Goodfellow, president of Universities UK, will say: "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.

"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 Julie, who is also 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."

The campaign is launched as speculation that Prime Minister David Cameron will hold the 'In/Out' referendum in June next year continues to intensify.