tOn the 5th of February an email was sent to all Newcastle University Students signed by Chris Day, the university’s Vice Chancellor, outlining their contingency plans in the case of a no deal Brexit in March.
The email reads: “as the political uncertainty around Brexit continues, I wanted to write to you and to all our students to reassure you that we are taking action wherever we can and that we are planning for all eventualities.”
This comes just after the BBC published a report stating that a no deal Brexit could be “one of the biggest threats” the institutions have ever faced and that it could take Universities decades to recover” from.
In the email, Day detailed the strategies the University are implementing to protect students and the University in the event of a no deal Brexit, including “a Business Continuity team who make sure the organisation can operate effectively when it faces potentially disruptive events” and “working through the Russell Group and Universities UK, our membership organisations, to highlight the impact of Brexit on our staff, students and research.”
Day also acknowledged the fate of the Erasmus study abroad scheme if a no deal Brexit ensues, referencing government published information that there would be no commitment by the Erasmus+ scheme to fund future students in their time abroad. However, those who are currently abroad will continue to be funded until they finish their studies.
In the Student Union we would like to see real efforts to protect International Students and Staff in the case of a no-deal scenario. I’m personally still waiting to be asked from the high levels of University to collaborate on this endeavour
A report by the BBC “17,000 UK students would not study in European universities as planned next year.”
Pablo Charro de la Fuente, International Students Officer at Newcastle University Students’ Union told the Courier: “I acknowledge the views of the Vice-Chancellor on the importance of the International community at the University. However, in that note he only truly committed to protect the mobility programmes of the University. In the Student Union we would like to see real efforts to protect International Students and Staff in the case of a no-deal scenario. I’m personally still waiting to be asked from the high levels of University to collaborate on this endeavour.”
While the gov.uk website “continues to recommend that applications are submitted to the European Commission or UK National Agency for the 2019 Erasmus+ and ESC Call for Proposals as normal”, Universities UK has also made an official statement that the government has not committed to providing any further funding for students planning to study in Europe in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Day linked to an ‘urgent’ campaign called #supportstudyabroad and encouraged students engage with the campaign on social media. He also stated “as a University we are offering an additional guarantee to provide funding for exchanges during 2019-20, in case there are issues with the UK Government underwriting this in the event of a no deal.”
Jamie Cameron, Publicity officer for Newcastle University Labour Society commented: “I welcome the university’s move to underwrite student exchanges in 2019-2020 in case the government fails to. I believe student fees contribute to around 40% of Newcastle University’s funding, and the institution should care for our welfare in this way and others.”
Day finished the email by assuring students that the University “are committed to keeping you updated and would welcome your views.” The email did not point students in the direction of a platform through which to express views on the matter, but provided a list of email addresses for students to contact with specific queries.