though, we have to talk about it. We are moving towards yet another ‘crunch’
week in UK parliament. And although there are politicians on all sides trying
to block a no-deal exit, the work to plan for one has taken on a new
seriousness both in government and in the university sector.
The future of the UK’s participation in the
Erasmus+ program is a case in point.
At the end of January the UK government issued a technical note on the
Erasmus+ programme in the case of a
no-deal Brexit. The good news is that students on current placements
will be able to continue, and receive funding, to their end.
However, although the government has said they would like
to stay in the Erasmus+ programme for future calls if the EU will agree, it is
now clear that if they don’t succeed in securing this, there will be no
national alternative to enable students to study abroad in Europe. If we
lose Erasmus, there will be no scheme to replace it.
to our direct engagement with relevant ministers and officials, we have responded by launching the #SupportStudyAbroad
social media campaign to
highlight and amplify public support for study abroad, and encourage the
government to commit to funding study abroad programs in the event of a ‘no
invite you to join us by tweeting your support for study abroad and
highlighting the positive impact it has on young lives. We’re particularly keen
to hear the stories of students and alumni who have studied, worked or
simply don’t know what the position will be on March 29, but I do know that two
days earlier I’ll be meeting with 400 international higher education colleagues
annual gathering of those who lead on international strategies in
the UK’s universities, joined by counterparts from around the world.
or no deal we will have plenty to talk about. We have gathered a panel of some
of the leaders of our European counterpart organisations – from Norway, Poland,
Spain and Austria – to discuss how we will make the hand we have been dealt
work for education and research. If it is ‘no-deal’ we’ll talk about how
universities on both sides of the channel are preparing themselves. How will we
protect the interests of our students who are abroad – either UK students in Europe,
or European students with us? How will we overcome new bureaucratic hurdles,
like immigration rules; changes in legal status and the challenge of
re-establishing old partnerships on a new basis?
there is a deal, we’ll be talking about how to make the transition work; and
what prospects there are of securing the UK’s longer-term participation in
European programmes. We’ll be discussing whether, despite all the good will
across Europe, we’d be naive to think that we can carry on as before, at the
heart of the European research and education landscape.
way we’ll hear from a major ESRC-funded research project on how UK universities
have been preparing themselves for the challenges ahead. And perhaps most
importantly of all, over coffee, in the margins of the conference, we’ll be
providing opportunities for our universities to share their own experiences,
plans and strategies with each other.
although I am heartily sick of talking about Brexit, I am glad we have the
opportunity to take stock at this critical moment in our history. I hope you
will join us.
International Higher Education Forum will take place on 27 March at Imperial College London, with a drinks reception on the evening of March 26.