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European university leaders call for continued collaboration after Brexit vote

22 July 2016

University leaders from 25 European countries, including Germany and France, have signed a joint statement to stress the importance of continued European university collaboration following the UK's vote to leave the EU.​

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."


The joint statement in full:

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


Prof. Rolf Tarrach PresidentEuropean Universities Association
Prof. Dame Julia Goodfellow PresidentUniversities UK
Prof. Dr. Horst HipplerPresidentGerman Rectors' Conference
Professor Jean-Loup SalzmannPresidentFrench Conference of University Presidents
Prof. Dr. Oliver VitouchPresidentUniversities Austria
Prof. Dr. Tomas ZimaPresidentCzech Rectors' Conference
Rector Per Michael JohansenVice Chair​Universities Denmark
Professor Tiit Land PresidentUniversities Estonia
Professor Jouko NiinimäkiPresidentUniversities Finland
Professor Luc De SchepperPresidentFlemish Interuniversity Council
Dr. József BódisPresidentHungarian Rectors' Conference
Dr Jon Atli Benediktsson PresidentNational Rectors Conference in Iceland
Prof. Don BarryPresidentIrish Universities Association
Prof. Gaetano ManfrediPresidentConference of Italian Universities Rectors
Professor Arvids Barsevskis ChairmanLatvian Rectors' Council
Professor Rainer KlumpPresidentUniversity of Luxembourg
​Professor Alfred J. Vella​Rector​University of Malta​
Jan Mengelers Vice-PresidentAssociation of Universities in the Netherlands
Prof. Dr Vidar L. HaanesPresidentNorwegian Association for Higher Education Institutions
Professor Wieslaw BanysPresidentConference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland
Prof. António M. CunhaPresidentPortuguese National Conference of Rectors
Prof. Dr Vladimir BumbasirevicPresidentConference of the Universities of Serbia
Professor Rudolf KropilPresidentSlovak Rectors' Conference
Professor Dragan Marušič, PhDPresidentSlovenian Rectors' Conference
Mr. Segundo Píriz DuránPresidentConference of the Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE)
Professor Helen Dannetun
Chair of the BoardAssociation of Swedish Higher Education


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