As the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU and the framework of their future relationship are contested and finalised, the Guild urges that a strong relationship between the two must be secured to sustain Europe’s outstanding strength in research, innovation and education.
The UK has been integral to the European Research Area, whilst being fully engaged in the creation of the Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation, and Erasmus+. Universities need a future relationship in science, education and innovation that builds on this closeness, and that enables the continued free movement of ideas – through research workers and students.
The Guild welcomes attempts to create a more global exchange between researchers and students, as well as developing global standards for research practice. But these must build on the European Research Area and the European Education Area. There is nothing to gain from the UK and the EU going separate ways in science, education and innovation, and abandoning the common legal, financial, regulatory and ethical frameworks that have been set up over decades.
Europe is a global leader in research and a pioneer in ensuring transnational student mobility and mutual recognition of qualifications. This is guaranteed not just by ambitious programmes in science, education and innovation; it is also essentially framed by the close political and economic relationships between member states and associated countries. As our societies face major global challenges, the EU and the UK need to strengthen their competitiveness by developing new knowledge and training the best minds through transnational collaboration. For this to happen, the UK and the EU must ensure a relationship of trust, closeness and mutuality.
The Guild urges politicians to seize this hour to lay the foundations for a strong, mutually beneficial relationship between the EU and UK; to ensure, in this process, clarity and assurance to staff, full-time students and exchange students from across the English Channel who make such a valued and essential contribution to our universities. They should also lay the foundation for full UK association in Horizon Europe and Erasmus, to provide clarity for students and staff immediately.