British unis mull offshore EU campuses in post-Brexit vote panic

Also told: ‘Don’t look at France... it’s a nightmare’

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British universities are looking to deepen links with their continental counterparts or even open offshore campuses in order to maintain their EU ties.

Universities face a double hit of reduced research funding and fewer EU students choosing British institutions thanks to Brexit uncertainty. Staff recruitment has also been hit by the continuing uncertainty.

One vice-chancellor told The Guardian universities were “window-shopping” different European countries to weigh up regulatory regimes. Another told the paper:

“It’s a question of what the model will be, not whether or not we adopt the model.”

The Republic of Ireland, Finland and the Baltic states are current frontrunners. One vice-chancellor said: “A piece of advice I’ve had is, if you are looking anywhere don’t look at France because it’s a nightmare.”

Having a campus within the European Union could help maintain access to EU research funds. British universities currently get about £1bn a year in research cash from the EU.

Research consortiums have already seen British academics dropped from projects seeking EU funding.

The British government has promised to “underwrite” existing EU research projects but exactly what that means remains unclear.

Attracting and retaining EU talent also remains a chief concern for UK science following the Brexit vote, according to a House of Lords Select Committee meeting earlier this month about EU membership and UK science.

Senior figures at London South Bank University, GlaxoSmithKline, University of Nottingham and the Russell Group of universities, were invited to give evidence at the hearing.

All concurred that attracting EU students and staff members to the UK was necessary for a thriving scientific research community. ®

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