European university leaders call for links with UK to continue

Presidents' associations issue statement in wake of Brexit vote

July 22, 2016
UK and EU flags

The heads of national university associations in 24 European countries have released a joint statement calling for continued “international cooperation and exchange” after last month’s Brexit vote.

Following the UK referendum result on membership of the European Union, questions have been thrown up over the UK’s continued participation in EU research frameworks, and UK academics have reported that this uncertainty has scuppered joint bids for funding.

The statement, signed by the presidents of the German Rector’s Conference and the French Conference of University Presidents, along with many other leaders, does not explicitly mention the uncertainty over grant applications.

But it says: “We are strongest when we tackle issues collaboratively, when we exchange ideas and people, and when we open our hearts and minds to new perspectives and new knowledge.”

“The outcome of the UK's referendum on EU membership will mean a new relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe, but we will work together to ensure that the long-standing research and exchange relationships between Europe's universities continue, for the benefit of people across the continent."

Rolf Tarrach, president of the European University Association, also said that “isolating the UK from European cooperation structures would not just have negative consequences for the UK, it would also undermine the profile and impact of European research more widely”.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK, said that it was a “welcome statement” and reiterated that it was “important that we get long-term guarantees that the UK will continue to benefit from opportunities to collaborate with partners on groundbreaking research”.

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