First evidence session on the impact of Brexit on higher education

The Education Committee has held a public hearing at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, for the first evidence session of its inquiry on the impact of exiting the European Union on higher education.

The session examined the strategies for universities in handling the impact of Brexit, the overall risks and opportunities of exit from the EU, and explored higher education's top priorities for the negotiation. The session also explored freedom of movement of staff and the impact on academic exchange, teaching, research and reputation. The Education Committee plans to hold future events at Northumbria University and UCL as part of this inquiry.The first witness panel included:
  • Professor Catharine Barnard, Professor of EU Law, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Alastair Buchan, the University of Oxford's new Head of Brexit Strategy
  • Professor John Latham, Vice-Chancellor, Coventry University
  • Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University
The second panel, which focused on freedom of movement of staff and impact on teaching, research and reputation, featured:
  • Professor Stephanie Haywood, President of the Engineering Professors' Council
  • Dr Anne Corbett, Associate of LSE Enterprise
  • Professor Lyndal Roper, Regius Professor of History, University of Oxford

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Margret Wintermantel, Head of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), who suggested in a Guardian article in September 2016 entitled ‘Britain’s universities depend on open borders – Brexit has us all worried’ that 15 per cent of EU staff could leave as a result of the Brexit referendum, also appeared on the panel. 

Chair’s comments

Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said, “In our inquiry, we want to examine the risks and opportunities for higher education post-Brexit and consider what the Government's priorities should be for the sector going into the negotiations with the EU.“We are delighted to hold this session at Oxford University and we hope students and university staff will be interested in attending this evidence hearing. In our inquiry, we are determined to hear from a diverse range of voices, from university leaders, students, academics and others, to help ensure our nation’s universities can continue to compete on the international stage as a provider of world-class higher education.”

Inquiry: Brexit and Higher Education

The Education Committee also held an inquiry event with students and academics at London South Bank University and has also recently published the written evidence it has received as part of its inquiry. The full list of 190 written submissions is available on the Education Committee website.The Committee's inquiry was launched in September and aims to explore the implications of UK's exit from the European Union for EU students and staff who want to come to England's universities to study and work and will consider what protections should be given to those who are already here. Similarly, it will look at the ramifications for Britons who want to work and study at higher education institutions in the EU.The Committee also aims to examine the effect of Brexit on the reputation of England's universities and ask how they can remain competitive. The future of the Erasmus+ student exchange programme and the impact on research is also be examined as part of the inquiry.

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