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UK and Germany: student exchange and joint research continue

6 December 2016

Last month, UUK President Dame Julia Goodfellow visited Berlin and UUK's partner organisation, the German Rectors' Conference Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK), for the first time since the UK's vote to leave the EU in June 2016. 

Since the referendum, both organisations have observed increasing uncertainty regarding the future conditions for the traditionally close British-German relations in university research and study.

Dame Julia again clarified the UK government's recent guarantees which ensure research collaborations continue between the UK and EU partners and confirm continued access to UK universities for EU students. 

She also reinforced the message that UK universities remain welcoming and open to German research collaborations and German students despite the outcome of the referendum.

The UK government confirmed that European Commission research grants, including those of the Horizon 2020 programme, awarded while the UK is still a member of the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury. This will remain the case even when the project continues beyond the UK's departure from the EU.

Additionally, current EU students, those who started courses in the 2016-17 academic year and those who are applying for courses beginning 2017-18 will continue to pay the same fees as UK students and continue to be eligible to receive loans and grants for the entirety of their courses. This is guaranteed even if the student's course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said:

'The historic links between the UK and Germany are strong both in terms of our joint research and the exchange of our students. Despite the UK's decision to leave the EU, the UK higher education sector continues to strive for greater internationalisation as well as maintaining our current relationships. Hopefully these guarantees will go a long way in ensuring the higher education sectors in Germany and the UK remain connected.'

Professor Dr Horst Hippler, President of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK), said:

'The German higher education sector welcomes these reassurances from the UK government. Both the student and the research aspects will go a long way in creating stability in this time of flux. The UK and Germany have been working closely for decades in an environment of mutual benefit and it would be devastating for both sectors if that were to cease.'

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