University of Essex
University of Essex

March 17, 2017

Reaffirming our commitment to Essex as a cosmopolitan university committed to inclusivity and to internationalism

The Government will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of the month to begin the process of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. I want to take this opportunity to provide an update for staff, students and alumni on the actions that we have been taking and that are underway to support our community and to ensure that the University not only survives, but thrives in the new environment. 

It is important to remember that the triggering of Article 50 is not the date on which we leave the EU, but rather the formal notification of the UK Government’s intention to leave the EU and will be followed by two years of negotiation on the terms of exit. This will no doubt be a period of uncertainty as the negotiations ebb and flow. 

Our approach has been and will continue to be to seize opportunities to support our mission wherever we can find or create them.

  • We continue to work closely with Universities UK, and our friends and supporters in Parliament to lobby for the best possible deal for universities in securing access to research funding opportunities, free movement and mobility schemes for staff and students and to secure the rights of our non-UK EU staff.  Our EU partners in the 18 member Young European Research Universities Network (YERUN) will be publishing a statement in support of the need to maintain strong collaborative links and we really appreciate their support and encouragement. 
  • To mitigate the risks associated with a reduction in non-UK EU student numbers following Brexit, we have increased our engagement in EU countries in a variety of ways. In addition we have reorganised our student recruitment function to ensure we can more fully secure our fair share of talented students from across the globe. For example we have increased by 50% the size of our Regional International Office Network and we now have offices and staff in China, Nigeria, India and Malaysia. We have also appointed Professor Dominic Micklewright as Dean of Partnerships to lead mission critical work to further develop existing and new international research and recruitment partnerships with universities around the world. I have significantly increased my own visits programme to raise our institutional profile and have most recently visited Japan and Spain and over the summer and autumn will visit countries in South East Asia and China.

  • We are continuing to monitor levels of interest in the University from potential students. I am pleased to report that our total international undergraduate and postgraduate applications are up by 4% on the same point last year (and offers of places are up by 15%). Our (non-UK) European applications are up by 12% and offers are up by 17%. But we are recruiting students in a highly competitive market and we cannot be complacent and the impact of triggering Article 50 on applicant behaviour is something the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and our admissions staff will monitor very closely.
  • Following the decision on 23 June 2016 that the UK would leave the EU, we brought staff and students together through an open meeting and followed this up with a range of internal communications. We encouraged our community to contribute their ideas for what the University should be doing both practically and in terms of sharing our global and inclusivity values. Since then we have been providing information, advice and support.

  • We have put in place a range of events and activities to support and advise staff on residency and nationality issues. Further details are available on our Brexit information pages. These will continue to be updated as changes happen and will also include further actions that we plan to take to support our community.
Our One Essex campaign encourages inclusivity across the county of Essex.

Our One Essex campaign encourages inclusivity across the county of Essex.

  • As a direct result of the views expressed by our staff and students, we are this week launching a ‘One Essex’ campaign. The aim is to: re-affirm our University campuses as inclusive and safe places and spaces; and to work with local partners to raise visibility of these values in our local communities championing inclusivity and the benefits of membership of a global community. The first event is due to take place on Square 5 of the Colchester campus next Thursday. Our Students’ Union plan to build a physical Hate Wall where students and staff will post their views on, or experiences of, discriminatory behaviour throughout the day. At 5:30pm our community are invited to come together to knock down the wall to demonstrate that we are standing firm in relation to our values. Please support the event if you are able to so that we can show the strength of our feeling. A range of other ‘One World, One Spirit, One Essex’ events and activities will be taking place in the coming months and will be promoted through staff, student and alumni communications and social media.

With the triggering of Article 50 it is clear that the context in which we pursue our mission for excellence in education and research will be different, but our values remain unchanged. We remain a cosmopolitan university committed to inclusivity and to internationalism and we are proud to be a university where you can find the world in one place.

Professor Anthony Forster

Vice-Chancellor.

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