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In or out of the EU, EUPRIO will stay together

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Speculation is mounting about the impact on universities of the UK’s #BREXIT referendum on European Union membership, especially in areas like student and staff mobility and research cooperation, writeS Nic Mitchell.

But for EUPRIO the message is clear!

BREXIT 2“In or out of the EU, our European association of university communication colleagues will remain together”, said EUPRIO’s President Christine Legrand.

“We are colleagues with same questions, exchanges and experience and we are still on the same length”, she said.

Active members outside the EU

“We have always had active membership outside the European Union in countries like Norway, Iceland and Switzerland; and while I personally regret the outcome of the British referendum, it is a result that must be respected.

Reassurances from EUPRIO President Christine Legrand

Reassurances from EUPRIO President Christine Legrand

“The key is that it will not effect how we work to spread and encourage best practice in higher education public relations, marketing and communications across the continent and beyond”, said Christine.

Others in European higher education echoed this sentiment.

The European University Association, which has 850 members across 47 European countries, issued a statement after the UK voted to leave the European Union, saying it shares the disappointment at the result with its member, Universities UK, and the British university community.

The EUA said it is “very concerned about the insecurity this causes, notably with regard to the participation of British universities in the EU funding programmes as well as the long-term consequences for European cooperation in research and education.

Against a closed and prejudiced mindset

“British universities have demonstrated a clear and common dedication to university values during the campaign leading up to the referendum.

“They have argued against a closed and prejudiced mindset, pushing for openness, critical thinking, and a debate based on evidence; they have set a brilliant example to the rest of the world of what university values mean.”

The statement went on to say: “British universities are and remain an essential part of the European family of universities, which extends beyond EU borders.

“This community of knowledge and learning is strong and longstanding, and it will surely overcome this crisis, although the questions and consequences of the British exit are certainly formidable.

The Europe of universities will not be divided

“EUA will continue to work with and for British universities. The Europe of universities will not be divided!”

Universities UK fought a lengthy campaign highlighting the arguments in favour of Great Britain staying in the European Union, as Lucy Shackleton, senior policy officer (Europe) at the UK Higher Education International Unit outlined in a guest blog for EUPRIO last year. 

But the June 23 referendum saw a majority of 52-48% in favour of the leaving the EU among British voters.

Outcome a real challenge

Sarah Main, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering

Sarah Main, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering

Among the early reaction was this from Sarah Main, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, who told University World News: “This outcome provides a real challenge for our sector. Science is an area where the relationship between the UK and the EU was particularly beneficial, not least because scientists won billions of pounds of research funding for the UK, above and beyond what we put in.”

This amounted to €8.8 billion (US$9.7 billion) between 2007 and 2013.

“In addition, free movement of people in the EU made it easy for scientists to travel, collaborate and share ideas with the best in Europe and for companies and universities in the UK to easily access top talent from Europe.”

Not leaving the EU overnight

Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, where EUPRIO held its 2013 annual conference, said: “We should remember that leaving the EU will not happen overnight – there will be a gradual exit process with significant opportunities to seek assurances and influence future policy.”

Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK

Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK

She said the first priority of Universities UK will be to convince the UK government to take steps to ensure that staff and students from EU countries can continue to work and study at British universities in the long term, and to promote the UK as a ‘welcoming destination’ for the brightest and best minds.

“We will also prioritise securing opportunities for our researchers and students to access vital pan-European programmes and build new global networks.”

Also see:

Brexit result: What does it mean for the UK’s higher education sector and students? Independent 

Expert reaction to the UK voting to leave the European Union, Science Media Centre

UK fears ‘significant’ drop in EU student recruitment, Times Higher Education

It (probably) won’t be that bad, by Ant Bradshaw, WONKHE

Why I believe Brexit means new opportunities for UK higher education, by Jamie Martin, Times Higher Education

and our blog in March

Universities want UK to stay in the European Union, EUPRIO website