3rd Dec, 2016

University Vice Chancellor calls on government to delay Higher Education Bill

Coventry Editorial 27th Jun, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

WARWICK University’s Vice-Chancellor has called on the Government to delay its latest Higher Education Bill while work is done to deal with the fallout from Brexit.

Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft has pledged to write to the Government, describing the bill as an ‘intolerable burden for universities’ that would threaten universities’ ability to promote the UK’s global reputation.

In a blog post written in reaction to the EU Referend , Mr Croft wrote: “So, the voters have spoken; the next few years will see the result of that vote translated into policy reality.

“Once there is clarity on who is charged with translating this for higher education, I will be writing to them to call for a delay in the Higher Education Bill while this work is carried through.

“To add the demands of that Bill to those of EU exit, at the same time, will be an intolerable burden for universities that, frankly, threatens to rock our very capacity to do everything we do to promote and extend the UK’s reputation globally.

“This, at a time when that reputation matters more than ever. I hope that much will be self-evident to the minister.”

Mr Croft went on to try calm the fears of the University’s 1,260 undergraduate students from EU countries and the 700 domestic students who participate in the Erasmus exchange programme between Warwick and other European universities.

He argued those already registered to study would not be affected by any fee hikes the Government implement – suggesting there might be little fee changes until 2020 while negotiations were taking place.

Mr Croft also wrote of the impact on the nearly 500 staff members from EU countries who work at the university.

He said: “I know many are concerned with the implications for their right to stay in this country.

“I can understand why, given some of the unpleasant things said during the Referendum campaign.

“However, our European staff are an important, valued, part of our community, and I intend to make the case wherever I can that such staff are incredibly valuable to UK HE, and should not be disadvantaged in the new world.”

Mr Croft also pledged to honour contracts for research income – currently over £13 million a year from EU sources – and said he would argue for UK universities to remain part of the European research family, like Norway and Switzerland, to protect the future of research and teaching at the Russell Group University.

He concluded: “I have made no secret that, in my view, the University’s future would have been more certain with a Remain vote.

“But it is still secure with a Leave vote. We still are a very attractive place for students to study, whether they be British or from around the rest of the world, and part of that attraction is precisely because of the cosmopolitan nature of our student and staff body.

“We must maintain this.

“And seeing our growing research income over the past few years, we should remain confident in the quality of our research in the global competition for the funding our research needs and deserves.

“So, although we will leave the EU, Warwick will remain a strong, confident, global institution.”