By Sadie Balmain
As Britain prepares to exit the European Union on January 31, what will change for staff and students at Brunel University?
As the UK prepares to leave the EU, three years after the 2016 referendum, there is still uncertainty around how Brexit will affect UK universities.
Justin Fisher, Head of Department of Social and Political Sciences at Brunel, has said: “The symbolic effect of ending 47 years of cooperation with the EU will have a huge cultural effect on Brunel.”
James Cantwell, Chair of the Conservative Society at Brunel, said: “The economic benefit will attract new students and staff to the UK in the coming years. But I do not believe there will be many visible short-term changes for students.”
Dr Fisher continued by expressing his concern over the uncertainty of the Erasmus program, saying: “Erasmus has had such a successful impact on university life for both EU and UK nationals and has transformed people’s lives for the better.”
It is unknown how Brexit will affect the UK’s involvement in Erasmus, the scheme that allows UK and EU university students to study abroad.
Mr Cantwell said: “In the long run we may see more students from America or Commonwealth countries coming to the UK. Hopefully we will find a new arrangement or come to an agreement surrounding Erasmus as it has been very good for students so far.”
Joel Reid Wylie, Chair of the Green Party Society at Brunel, expressed his concern over Erasmus saying: “Many students might feel pre-emptive confusion surrounding the UK’s involvement. Which may unfortunately put people off studying in the UK.”
Britain is entering a ‘transition period’ that will see the UK and EU parliaments negotiate an exit deal over the next 11 months. How this will affect UK universities, including Brunel, is unclear.
Dr Fisher said: “There is a broad spread of political opinion at Brunel, but everyone gets on. There is more that we have in common than differences.
The impact of Brexit here won’t be felt until next year but the symbolism our exit will be the biggest change. “
Brunel students may not see any significant changes to day-to-day life after Brexit but in is uncertain what changes will arise in the coming years.