The statement – from representative organisations of universities and national rectors' conferences from across Europe – highlights the importance of international cooperation and exchange and says that universities are strongest when they tackle issues collaboratively.
While acknowledging that, following the outcome of the UK's referendum, the UK will develop a new relationship with the EU, it calls for continued 'research and exchange relationships between Europe's universities, for the benefit of people across the continent'.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said: "This is a welcome statement from our European partners. While we know the referendum result will have no immediate effect on the UK's participation in EU research and exchange programmes, it is important that we get long-term guarantees that the UK will continue to benefit from opportunities to collaborate with partners on ground-breaking research. We are determined that the UK university sector will remain a welcoming destination, open and internationally engaged and a high-quality partner of choice."
Rolf Tarrach, President of the European University Association, said: "Given the strength of the UK's research base, 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. It is through working together within a united, European knowledge community that universities can achieve the best outcomes and tackle the big challenges."
We as European university leaders wish to reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation and exchange in this turbulent time for Europe. 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.
Collaboration is also a cornerstone of innovation and excellence. It is by pooling infrastructure, data and expertise that we can best pursue ground-breaking research which improves people's lives and help to build strong and sustainable knowledge economies.
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.
The Presidents of European Rectors' Conferences