Brexit – What should universities do in the run up to the referendum?

michael-arthur-3Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL, speaks up in support for UK membership of the EU, highlighting the potentially harmful effects an exit could have on the UK’s Higher Education sector. Writing in a personal capacity, he reflects on the role that universities, and their Vice-Chancellors, should take in the referendum debate. Moreover, he argues that a ‘no’ vote would not only lead to a significant loss of research funding and risk diminishing the diversity of staff and students, but also to a loss of impact in setting the global research agenda.

With Prime Minister David Cameron’s draft EU reform deal on the table, current speculation is that the referendum vote could happen as early as June this year. A good time therefore to put fingers to keyboard and to express my personal view about what universities should (or perhaps should not) do as the debate intensifies.

As many will be aware, UCL hosted a launch event for UUK, during which this collective sector-wide body expressed a view that it would be very bad for UK Higher Education if we were to leave the European Union. It was a one-sided launch event and was never intended to be anything else, but nevertheless it attracted criticism, and was contrasted with the silent approach taken by Scottish universities during the referendum on independence for Scotland. Continue reading

Europe and Research Excellence in the UK

Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, University of Kent Vice Chancellor, examines the role of EU research collaboration and funding in sustaining and fostering research excellence in the UK.

The recent results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), a national review of research across all disciplines and all Universities that takes place about every 6 years, have once again demonstrated the strength of research in the UK with 30% of submissions judged to be world leading. Moreover, this time it not only took account of high quality outputs (books, journal articles, patents and so on) but also the economic, social and cultural impact that stems from high quality research.

Following a visit to the University of Ghent, one of the University of Kent’s international strategic partners, I have been reflecting on the relationship between research excellence and the European dimension to research funding and collaboration.

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