The following is a statement issued by Bournemouth University's Vice-Chancellor about the EU Referendum.
I am writing this from China where, along with our colleagues and students, I have just launched our first ever Global Festival of Learning. The decision to leave the EU has been a hot topic in our discussions here, and what that will mean for BU, the openness of UK HE and global HE partnerships.
I have answered that as a confident and inclusive university, BU has a clear direction of travel, a robust strategic plan and that we will continue to invest in our staff and students to deliver our vision and remain an outward looking and progressive sector leading university. Global engagement is rightly at the heart of our vision and that will not change. Our focus on excellence and global talent does not change with this decision, in fact quite the opposite; it strengthens our resolve to continue to deliver our global vision in new and creative ways.
I want to reassure all staff and students that we take very seriously our position as one of the Times Higher Education’s Top 200 most international universities in the world. We will continue to focus on excellent research, linked to professional practice and education. The cultural and academic contribution of our international colleagues, students and partners is a vital part of this, and we are determined that this will continue.
It will be some time before we have clarity on all the many questions and of course we will continue to review the risks that are raised by these changes. In the meantime, I know that many of you are concerned about the impact on our students and staff.
BU has confirmed that we will not change our fees mid-course for our current students or those starting in September. I was delighted to see that the Student Loans Company and the Minister for Universities have now confirmed that EU citizens currently studying in the UK or starting their courses in September will continue to receive loans until they finish their courses. This is great news and we are contacting students to ensure that they are aware of this.
Our EU staff and students may also be concerned about potential changes to UK immigration rules. The government has confirmed that there are no immediate changes to immigration rules affecting EU staff or students in the UK, and there are also no changes to immigration rules affecting our staff and students working or studying in the EU. At this stage we cannot say what future changes may be made, but given the Minister’s position that EU students are welcome in the UK and the announcements about fees made above, I believe that it is unlikely that changes would be made to immigration policy that would affect current students. The Higher Education sector would strongly oppose any such changes and we will be watching this area closely.
There will also not be any immediate change to EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+. Grants under these schemes will continue to run and we can, and should, continue to apply for funding under the existing schemes. It is not clear whether we will have access to future programmes after we leave the EU, which may not be until late in 2018 or even later, and this issue may not be settled until much later in the negotiations.
We are committed to providing a warm welcome to colleagues and students from across the world, and we value diversity, equality and inclusivity in the BU and the wider community. It has been extremely disappointing to see reports of discrimination or victimisation of international residents in the UK. At BU, we will not tolerate such behaviour, please see our Dignity and Respect Policy and Frequently Asked Questions document for more information. If incidents do occur you can report the incident to askBU or direct to James Palfreman-Kay, Equality and Diversity Advisor (tel: 01202 965327 and email [email protected] ), approach the Neighbourhood Police Team, report the incident on-line via the Dorset police website or call 101, or in an emergency call 999 or 222 (01202 962222).
We will be watching developments closely, and working with the UK HE sector to ensure that our views are raised with the government over the next months.
Professor John Vinney Vice-Chancellor, Bournemouth University