Post-Brexit, higher education organisations promise to continue fostering a mutually beneficial relationship. Source: Shutterstock

We’re now living in the post-Brexit era, but despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, higher education and research organisations in both the UK and European Union (EU) have pledged to continue working together.

In a statement published on Universities UK’s website, 24 national university representative bodies, 36 major domestic and international organisations such as the European University Association, and others have reaffirmed their commitment to continue collaborating and fostering a strong relationship post-Brexit.

During this transition period until Dec 31, 2020, the UK will remain a full member of Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020. for projects and mobilities. UK’s participation in these programmes, including for projects and mobilities that run past Dec 31, 2020, will not change.

The statement reads: “We, the major bodies representing, and partnering with, science and higher education across the UK and Europe, are united in agreeing that we wish to continue to work together following the departure of the UK from the European Union.

“We call on our national governments and the European Commission to act on the commitments of the political declaration and work swiftly to agree a basis for continued collaboration through the UK’s full association to Horizon Europe and Erasmus+.

“Swift agreement in this area of clear mutual benefit would be good for all of us and should be reached before the end of 2020, allowing for the development of innovative and stronger collaborations over the decades to come.”

At the recent Education World Forum, Secretary of State of Education Gavin Williamson said, “When this country wakes up on Feb 1, it will be waking up to an exciting new era, forging new relationships across the world, both in Europe and outside.”

“A British education is considered first class. We have four universities in the top 10 internationally. We’re behind only the US – and I must say, we deliver it better than them. Brexit represents a great opportunity. Our doors remain open to talented individuals who wish to study in some of the world’s best universities. We want to increase the number of students we host.”

While officials such as Gavin Williamson remain confident that the UK will see a bright future ahead for higher education despite leaving the EU, others aren’t so sure.

A number of reports show that there will be definite challenges as Britain officially leaves the EU, leading to the industry’s steadfastness in continuing to work together post-Brexit.

Why UK and EU higher education sectors need to continue working together post-Brexit

According to an analysis by Times Higher Education (THE), artificial intelligence courses offered by UK universities could be affected, due to the predicted decline in the number of applications from the EU.

THE analysed data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency which showed that EU students made up almost a quarter of the 1,100 students in AI undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the academic year 2017-18.

In an opinion piece, president of the European University Association Michael Murphy wrote“The loss of opportunities created by leaving one of the largest communities of researchers, innovators and educators in the world would be too high.

“The UK’s leading position in Europe makes it an essential partner. It still provides the most prolific research environments and is by far the most important destination for mobile students; without it, the EU will be weaker.”

“So the UK needs the EU, and the EU needs the UK. Universities know it, but with a hectic year ahead, we must keep the goal of association to EU programmes and integration in the European Research and Education Areas in the front of our minds – and especially in the minds of political leaders.”

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