Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has said the potential loss of a major EU funding programme could have a hugely detrimental impact on the North's universities and students.
Mr O'Dowd said;
"There is no doubt about the hugely negative impact a potential Brexit would have on our universities and higher education sector.
"The Horizon 2020 funding scheme in particular offers huge potential and the possibility of losing elements of it would have a huge impact on our universities.
"While the British government has now said it will pay for Horizon research projects granted before any Brexit, that will be cold comfort to groups currently applying or preparing to apply.
"The potential loss of this important funding stream would hit our universities hard in terms of research, courses and opportunities for students.
"And the uncertainty created by the current situation is further adding to the problem.
"What is certain is that the people of the North voted to remain in the EU and the British government needs to acknowledge and respect that."