Summary of the all-staff meeting: After the EU Referendum
Stuart Croft hosted an all-staff meeting on Tuesday 12 July 2016 to discuss the UK’s vote to leave the EU and the potential impact on Warwick. Almost 500 staff attended from across all parts of the University, so thank you for joining us if you were able to be there.
We will use staff meeting opportunities throughout the coming year to discuss further Brexit policy and legislative matters as they become clearer. We will also continue to update our staff guidance and student guidance online as new information becomes available. In the meantime, the information below gives a summary of the discussions and questions raised at the meeting.
Personal reflections on the result
Stuart acknowledged how emotive the leave and remain campaigns had been, and how cataclysmic the result felt to many people. He, and other staff present, commented on how personally saddened they were by the result, and how unsettling the political uncertainty is that has followed the result.
A number of people reflected on how they now felt the UK may be less welcoming and diverse as an immediate effect of the referendum.
Stuart commented that the role of universities had not been effectively demonstrated in the referendum: that the core values of a university – cosmopolitanism and evidence-based policy - had not been valued in some parts of the debate. He reflected on the challenges universities now face to more effectively show the value of the expertise we can provide to communities or groups in society who have rejected this input.
Colleagues reflected on the referendum results regionally, with different referendum outcomes occurring in Coventry and Warwickshire. We also discussed how the University might contribute to understanding some of the reasons for these results.
Whilst there were clearly a broad range of concerns and worries that cannot yet be fully understood or addressed, a number of staff commented that the meeting had been reassuring, and a helpful opportunity to come together and hear more about the University’s plans.
Stuart reiterated the comments that he had made in his blog immediately after the referendum to urge colleagues to now focus on the best possible outcomes of the referendum: to seek to do all we can as a University to protect and celebrate the cosmopolitan nature of our community, and to seek to proactively influence policy negotiations to shape the UK’s future engagement with Europe.
Stuart outlined some of the challenges universities face as a result of leaving the EU: the right to remain in the UK for EU citizens studying and working with us, EU student fee status and access to loans and post-study work opportunities and access to Horizon 2020 research funds.
He also discussed concerns around where we see academics appearing to being discouraged from collaboration in EU activities or funding applications, noting that we need to understand how partners and decision-makers can be reassured that engagement with UK universities is still viable and attractive.
And, although there was some political clarity with the recent appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister, Stuart noted the continued uncertainty around the government’s approach to Brexit, and what priorities and solutions they would pursue.
Key priorities for universities
Stuart highlighted the key policy priorities identified at Warwick:
Lobby for continuation of access to loans and continuation of the link between UK and EU fees for EU students
Continue to argue for the right for EU graduates to work here after completing study
EU citizens to continue to have full rights in the UK
Full access to EU research funds. We are still a full member of the EU and should be treated as such in any evaluation processes.
Activity at Warwick
There was discussion of some of the work already underway at Warwick: immediate support and guidance to applicants, students and staff on some of the areas where we can be certain; planning and impact analysis; championing our international community through events like Warwick One World and the #weareinternational campaign.
Taking further action
Stuart outlined that he felt there is real opportunity to contribute to the debate and shape future options over the coming weeks – both internally and externally. By mid-September, it is anticipated that the government will clarify the timescale and policy priorities, but there is fluidity and a real chance to contribute until then.
He highlighted a number of immediate steps Warwick should take now:
- Protect EU fee status for applicants in 2016 and 2017: we have now confirmed in a statement that the University will protect EU fee status for 2016, 2017 and 2018
- Use our fellowships to develop research and accelerate impact in relation to the referendum and the vote to leave the EU: Find out more
- Remain committed to the Coventry City of Culture bid to demonstrate the region’s continued commitment to cultural diversity
- Use all channels of regional, national and European engagement to seek to influence Brexit policy negotiations
- Gather evidence of specific examples regarding policy or development suggestions, experiences of where EU membership has had positive impact, experiences of where the referendum results have already had a negative impact on individuals or the University’s research or teaching activities. This evidence will be collated to enable the University to contribute actively to debate and shaping the agenda on future EU engagement models.
- Engage further with the Warwick community to identify opportunities to support staff and students affected by Brexit, and to champion our international outlook
- Engage further with the Warwick community to identify opportunities to support and influence regional, national and European policy developments for a new UK-EU relationship
Stuart ended the meeting with a commitment to continue to engage proactively with the staff community on this issue, using future all-staff meetings and other engagement opportunities as appropriate throughout the next academic year, as well as continuing to update staff and student guidance as new information becomes available.
If you have specific examples of where the referendum results have already had a negative impact on individuals or the University’s teaching or research activities, please send these to stuart at warwick dot ac dot uk
Please contact internalcomms at warwick dot ac dot uk if you would like to be involved in further staff meetings to be held over the summer to work with colleagues to identify opportunities and contribute to the University’s longer-term response and future positioning in relation to the following topics:
supporting staff and students affected by Brexit; championing our international outlook; influencing regional, national and European policy developments for a new UK-EU relationship.
Questions and answers
A number of specific questions were raised and addressed as follows at the meeting:
We have great students from the EU. What’s the University’s position? Invest less or work harder?
Absolutely continue, no stepping back, no withdrawal.
Should we continue with Erasmus?
Absolutely continue with research, teaching exchanges and being active in ongoing work
What are the best ways to get involved and influence over the next two months?
Local media will be crucial, working with other organisations to find common cause, lobbying your MP.
Will any Warwick employee be deported?
The government has made a statement on the status of EU nationals currently in the UK outlining that they fully expect the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK to be properly protected. The University will strive to protect the status of staff in all roles.
Should we have a taskforce?
We need to lobby, gather data and seek to influence up until mid-September 2016. We need to start thinking about it now, but not plan for any coordinating governance group until after mid-September.