Brexit: Sussex universities face ‘significant challenges’

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Universities in Sussex have raised concerns for their futures following the results of the EU referendum.

The institutions said they are concerned over access to European Union funded research grants as well as how to attract staff and students from EU countries, after the national referendum yesterday (June 23).

A spokesman for the University of Brighton said: “The EU Referendum vote and the huge political and economic uncertainty it has produced will create significant challenges for all UK universities, both in terms of what it means for our staff and students and our ability to access vital EU research funds.

“The University of Brighton will continue to be an outward looking and internationally-focused institution.

“Many of our students look to continue their studies or develop their careers in Europe and many EU students want to come and study with us. We will be working hard to ensure that they can continue to do so.”

The spokesman added the University of Brighton had ran a campaign to encourage students to register – either in Sussex or at their home address – to ensure they did not lose their ability to vote.

Professor Michael Farthing vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex also raised concerns. He said: “The contribution of universities to the economic and social life of the UK is absolutely vital and today’s result will have significant implications not just for those in higher education but the wider public.

“Our staff and students who come from EU countries are a valued part of our campus community and our priority is to ensure they can continue to work and study with us.

“We are also looking to understand what the long-term implications might be for our researchers involved in EU funded programmes.

“Most of the University’s staff and students care passionately about staying in the EU and we will be doing all we can to support them.”

Nationally the higher education organisation Universities UK said it respected the referendum decision but it would create

Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK said: “Leaving the EU will create significant challenges for universities. Although this is not an outcome that we wished or campaigned for, we respect the decision of the UK electorate.

“We should remember that leaving the EU will not happen overnight – there will be a gradual exit process with significant opportunities to seek assurances and influence future policy.

“Throughout the transition period our focus will be on securing support that allows our universities to continue to be global in their outlook, internationally networked and an attractive destination for talented people from across Europe. These features are central to ensuring that British universities continue to be the best in the world.

“Our first priority will be to convince the UK Government to take steps to ensure that staff and students from EU countries can continue to work and study at British universities in the long term, and to promote the UK as a welcoming destination for the brightest and best minds.

“They make a powerful contribution to university research and teaching and have a positive impact on the British economy and society. We will also prioritise securing opportunities for our researchers and students to access vital pan-European programmes and build new global networks.”

A spokesman for the University of Chichester said the institution supported Dame Goodfellow’s statement but declined to comment further on the EU referendum.

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