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Prof Janet Beer: Universities can ‘thrive’ outside EU with right support

UK universities can “thrive” outside of the European Union with the right support from government according to the vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool.

Professor Janet Beer was speaking at an event in Liverpool which examined the future for the country’s cities, businesses and higher education providers following the referendum.

Beer, who played a key role in the Remain campaign, outlined five key areas she wants the government focus on to ensure UK universities are able to “maximise their economic success and global influence post-Brexit”.

The five areas are:

  • Encouraging students from around the world to study in the UK
  • Enhancing international research collaboration
  • Making the UK an attractive destination for talented international university staff
  • Increasing public investment in research and innovation
  • Giving UK students and staff access to vital global opportunities

Beer said: “The outcome of the referendum was of course not the result that most universities wanted.

“However, the political reality is that the government is committed to ensuring the UK exits the EU and we will stand and embrace a different long-term future for universities and higher education.

“Whilst Brexit poses significant challenges to universities, we believe that with the right support and investment from government, we can thrive outside the EU.”

Beer highlighted the positive financial impact of universities on the UK’s economy, a figure she put at £73 million annually, whilst calling for an end to the uncertainty surrounding EU students access to finance and tuition fees for those beginning studies in 2018/19.

She added: “It’s key to the future growth of the UK economy and the competitiveness of our universities that EU and non-EU students are able to continue to come to the UK to study without unnecessary bureaucratic burdens.

“It’s essential that the government supports us to promote a welcoming message worldwide – the UK is a open, attractive destination for students.”

Beer also stressed that access to EU research policy and programmes needs to be maintained and pressed the government for a commitment to replace any lost research funding associated with leaving the EU.

Beer was speaking at ‘UK Cities, Universities and Businesses in Europe after the Referendum: Risks and Opportunities’ organised by the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice at the Maritime Museum yesterday (17 November).

The event also featured contributions from Lord Michael Heseltine and the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson alongside Colin Sinclair,chief executive of Knowledge Quarter Liverpool, and Max Steinberg, chief executive of Liverpool Vision.