European universities stress importance of continued collaboration after Brexit

University leaders from 24 European countries, including Germany and France, have signed a joint statement.

As Universities UK announced on Friday July 22, university leaders from 24 European countries, including Germany and France, have signed a joint statement to stress the importance of continued European university collaboration following the UK's vote to leave the EU. Among the first representatives who signed the statement was the Czech Rectors Conference. 

According to the statement released by representative organisations of universities from across Europe, universities highlight the importance of international cooperation and exchange. The signatories in the statement say that universities are strongest when they tackle issues collaboratively, and even if the UK develop a new relationship with the EU, following the outcome of the UK's referendum, the statement calls for continued research and exchange relationships between European universities, for the benefit of people across the continent.

"This is a welcome statement from our European partners. While we know the referendum result will have no immediate effect on the UK's participation in EU research and exchange programmes, it is important that we get long-term guarantees that the UK will continue to benefit from opportunities to collaborate with partners on ground-breaking research. We are determined that the UK university sector will remain a welcoming destination, open and internationally engaged and a high-quality partner of choice," said Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent. 

Rolf Tarrach, President of the European University Association and one of the signatories of the statement, said: "Given the strength of the UK's research base, isolating the UK from European cooperation structures would not just have negative consequences for the UK, it would also undermine the profile and impact of European research more widely. It is through working together within a united, European knowledge community that universities can achieve the best outcomes and tackle the big challenges."

The joint statement in full
We as European university leaders wish to reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation and exchange in this turbulent time for Europe. We are strongest when we tackle issues collaboratively, when we exchange ideas and people, and when we open our hearts and minds to new perspectives and new knowledge.  Collaboration is also a cornerstone of innovation and excellence. It is by pooling infrastructure, data and expertise that we can best pursue ground-breaking research which improves people's lives and help to build strong and sustainable knowledge economies.  The outcome of the UK's referendum on EU membership will mean a new relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe, but we will work together to ensure that the long-standing research and exchange relationships between Europe's universities continue, for the benefit of people across the continent. 

Signed,
the Presidents of European Rectors' Conferences:

Prof. Rolf Tarrach
President, European Universities Association

Prof. Dame Julia Goodfellow 
President, Universities UK

Prof. Dr. Horst Hippler
President, German Rectors' Conference

Professor Jean-Loup Salzmann
President, French Conference of University Presidents

Prof. Dr. Oliver Vitouch
President, Universities Austria

Prof. Dr. Tomas Zima
President, Czech Rectors' Conference

Rector Per Michael Johansen
Vice Chair, Universities Denmark

Professor Tiit Land
President, Universities Estonia

Professor Jouko Niinimäki
President, Universities Finland

Professor Luc De Schepper
President, Flemish Interuniversity Council

Dr. József Bódis
President, Hungarian Rectors' Conference

Dr Jon Atli Benediktsson
President, National Rectors Conference in Iceland

Prof. Don Barry
President, Irish Universities Association

Prof. Gaetano Manfredi
President, Conference of Italian Universities Rectors

Professor Arvids Barsevskis
Chairman, Latvian Rectors' Council

Professor Rainer Klump
President, University of Luxembourg

Jan Mengelers
Board Member, Association of Universities in the Netherlands

Prof. Dr Vidar L. Haanes
President, Norwegian Association for Higher Education Institutions

Professor Wieslaw Banys
President, Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland

Prof. António M. Cunha
President, Portuguese National Conference of Rectors

Prof. Dr Vladimir Bumbasirevic
President, Conference of the Universities of Serbia

Professor Rudolf Kropil
Head, Slovak Rectors' Conference

Professor Dragan Marušič, PhD
President, Slovenian Rectors' Conference

Mr. Segundo Píriz Durán
President, Conference of the Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE)

Professor Helen Dannetun
Chair of the Board, Association of Swedish Higher Education