Oxford Brookes supports Universities for Europe campaign

Monday, 22 February 2016

Universities for Europe

With a date now set for the referendum to decide on the UK’s membership of the European Union, Oxford Brookes University can announce that it will be supporting the Universities for Europe campaign to remain in the EU.

As an institution, Oxford Brookes backs the view that the UK’s membership of the EU makes our outstanding universities even stronger, which in turn benefits everyone in the country.

Speaking after the referendum date was announced, Vice-Chancellor Professor Alistair Fitt commented:  “It is right that individuals will have their say as part of the referendum and we welcome the debate that is set to take place over the coming months. As an institution which benefits greatly from membership of the EU, Oxford Brookes will be supporting the Universities for Europe campaign for remaining as a member of the EU.”      

“Aside from the wider advantages to society, business and the country as a whole, the EU is vital to higher education. Being in the EU hugely enhances Oxford Brookes’ research, innovation and teaching. It helps us to create employable graduates and make cutting-edge research discoveries, while we benefit greatly from the talented staff and students we welcome to the University from the EU.”

Figures show that EU students make a huge contribution to the UK economy. In 2011-12 alone, EU students at UK universities spent £2.27bn and generated £19bn for the UK economy. Every single day of the year, Oxford Brookes is contributing well over £1 million to the UK economy and our membership of the EU plays a significant role in this.

EU students make up 5% of the higher education student body which is mirrored at Oxford Brookes where the figure is 5.3%. Those from the EU are a key part of the 18,000 students who are volunteering, getting involved in social enterprises and spending in the local and wider economy. 

Being in the EU also makes it easier for Oxford Brookes to attract talented staff from across Europe. They contribute significantly to university teaching, world class research and cultural and academic life – strengthening our society and economy in the process.  Across the sector, EU staff make up 15% of the academic workforce, which is very similar to Oxford Brookes where the figure is 14%.

Being in the EU hugely enhances Oxford Brookes’ research, innovation and teaching. It helps us to create employable graduates and make cutting-edge research discoveries, while we benefit greatly from the talented staff and students we welcome to the University from the EU

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor

We also know that EU research funding is an engine for growth. In 2013/14, UK higher education institutions received £687m of research income from EU sources.

In 2014/15, a quarter of Oxford Brookes’ total grants and contracts (24.8%) were received from the European Commission and other EU sources.

We also know that over 200,000 UK students and 20,000 UK university staff have spent time abroad through the Erasmus exchange programme, enhancing their employability and promoting understanding between people and cultures. 

Over 300 Oxford Brookes students have taken part in Erasmus exchange and work placements in the last five years (337 – 2010/11 to 2014/15), while almost 100 members of staff at the University (93) have also taken part in Erasmus opportunities over the same period.

Professor Alistair Fitt was one of 100 university leaders to write an open letter, published in the Sunday Times, which highlights how the UK membership of the European Union enhances the positive impact of universities “on our economy, driving growth, generating jobs and ultimately improving people’s lives”. In the letter the Vice-Chancellors “urge the British public to consider the vital role the EU plays in supporting our world-class universities.”

They highlight the positive impact of the EU for collaboration and the support provided for “cutting edge research, from medical and healthcare advances, to new materials, products and services.” They argue that “in the EU, the UK is also a more attractive destination for global talent, ensuring that our students are taught by the best minds from across Europe.”

The Universities for Europe campaign, which is led by Universities UK, is putting universities at the centre of the EU referendum debate. It aims to show the value of EU membership to our universities and why this matters to British people, economy and society.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said: “Inside the EU, our outstanding British universities are even stronger. EU membership enhances university research and education which, in turn, benefits British people. We are better able to collaborate with the best minds from across Europe to carry out cutting edge research that leads to innovations and discoveries that boost our economy, create new jobs and improve people’s lives.

"In a world where many of the challenges we face are global, from cancer to climate change, it is more important than ever that we minimise barriers to working with international partners to share expertise and knowledge.

Further information on Universities for Europe can be found on its dedicated webpages.