Post-Brexit Future

Declan Flahive

The UK’s decision on Thursday 23rd June to leave the European Union was brought about by negative campaigns on both sides; from David Cameron being branded a scaremonger through his tactics, to Farage producing posters similar to those found in Nazi Germany.

Holding a talk on what Brexit means for students and the University of Exeter, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Tim Quine shed light on many implications of the referendum from the front of the Exchange Lecture Theatre. Describing his EU staff as having the “best minds”, he continued in stating that it was vital they maintained their right to remain, whilst also hoping that British students studying abroad in the EU receive parallel rights. The number of EU applicants for the 2016/17 academic year was seen rising to 4,026, from 3,405 in 2015/16.                                                                            

With Article 50 not being triggered until next March at the earliest, and even then it taking at least two years to fully retract from the EU, there are still aspects which no one seems to know the definitive answer to; even Tim Quine linked our departure from the EU to Donald Rumsfield’s “unknown unknown” speech.  

As many of us know, the European Union have been vital financial backers in the construction of many learning facilities, including the construction of Penryn Campus. Leaving the EU would leave a hole in the pockets of many universities across the country. However, the Treasury who have said they will honour any research awards, the “ink isn’t dry” on this issue.

The negative social implications caused by the vote has taken the form of hate crime, with various incidents taking place across Devon and Cornwall, Exeter University would like to state that they “condemn in the strongest terms the behaviour” and actions of the minority of people carrying out these acts, saying they “do not represent the people in Devon and Cornwall”.  

Whilst not only causing a split across the country, the Brexit vote seems to have caused a rift in the cabinet, with the Chancellor Philip Hammond opposing Theresa May’s belief that International students should be counted in the net migration statistics. As well as challenging May over one of her longest-held stances on immigration, the Chancellor also called out Brexiteers, such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, to stay true to their promise of an increase in public spending if the UK were to vote Leave, a promise spearheaded by that infamous “£350 million” poster on the side of the Brexit Bus, which has been widely regarded as a fabricated piece of propaganda.

Erasmus+ arrangements will not be affected for students applying this year, however there is no guarantee it will continue post-March 2019, when the UK is expected to withdraw from the EU. Universities could continue exchanging students in the future as it is so important to the intellectual and cultural landscape of the university to have foreign students and staff. Some universities have already contacted Exeter stating they would like to continue this scheme independently, showing that the high value we place on the scheme is a shared view, whilst there has also been a suggestion of the possibility of UK university campuses in Europe, and the discussion of whether or not Universities should be able to issue visas. Maintaining contact with EU universities, keeping EU students and staff up to date as developments arise, whilst also promoting togetherness, is vital at this moment in time as the country moves into unexplored post-Brexit territory. Head to the University of Exeter’s website’s FAQ section for more information.