Past Event details

Academic Mobility and Brexit

Monday, 16 October 2017

The free movement of people is one of the founding principles of the European Union and it has been especially significant to the Higher Education sector as manifested in ERASMUS and the creation of EHEA and ERA. 

Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, however, the future of free movement of academics and students to and from Europe has become uncertain and the impact of post-Brexit may be more far reaching than measurable in the UK HE sector. 

Experts agree that the EU is central to the UK’s academic excellence and have consistently warned that British universities may face a serious brain drain as a consequence of Brexit. Just over two-thirds of academic staff in UK higher education are British. The next largest group -17 per cent - is from the rest of the EU, as opposed to 12 per cent from the rest of the world (Scott, 17 March 2017).  

In terms of research funding, the UK is almost certain to be a loser after Brexit. As indicated in the UK government’s ‘Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union’ (UK HM Government, 2014), £1.2 billion (GBP) annually in European research funding goes to universities in the UK. That is the second largest amount, after Germany. 

Given the ongoing debates and the uncertain processes of Brexit negotiations, this SRHE Policy Network event features two seminar papers by prominent speakers as a stimulus to discussion on the multiple dimensions of Brexit implications for and beyond academic mobility.  

Paper 1: Dr. Anne Corbett and Dr. Claire Gordon, London School of Economics

Brexit and Higher Education: Beyond Academic Mobility 
This talk will examine why it is that the UK higher education and research sector with its world-class standing reflected in multiple world rankings has found itself exposed in the wake of the Brexit vote. Moving beyond commentaries focusing on the risk to the sector posed by the loss of the rights to work, study and live across Europe, the paper explores the multi-level relationships that the UK HE and research sector has built over time across Europe and at home. In so doing we argue that UK higher education and research excellence has been nurtured and sustained through the sector’s embeddedness in the broader European project. And conversely we suggest that its variable social embeddedness at home has meant that the sector has found itself without strong public support as it seeks to find a way to retain its cutting-edge position in an uncertain post-Brexit world. 

Paper 2: Dr. Johanna L. Waters, University of Oxford 

International Student Mobility, Transnational Education, and Brexit 
This talk will reflect on the implications of Brexit for future international student mobility, on the one hand, and the growth in transnational forms of UK higher education (involving the mobility of staff and programmes) on the other. Early figures are already showing a downturn in the number of international students choosing the UK for higher education, whilst transnational education appears to be sustaining its recent growth. These two things are possibly related, and we will reflect on some of the implications here, with particular reference to Brexit.  
Discussant: Dr. Charikleia Tzanakou, University of Warwick. 

Please find a recording of this session here

Network: Higher Education Policy
Date(s): Monday, 16 October 2017
Times: 12.45-16,00
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
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Brexit and Higher Education: Beyond Academic Mobility
International student mobility & transnational education: new geographical imaginaries post-Brexit
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