January 30, 2020

A personal view from VC Stuart Croft on the day before Brexit

Tomorrow, at 11pm, the UK will be leaving the EU.

It is not the outcome that I wanted personally. But it is to be our new reality, and we must do all we can to make the best that we can of that new reality.

We must have a firm resolve that, while Brexit may appear to threaten decades of partnership with our European neighbours, we remain European at heart and are actively planning decades of future proactive partnership.

The first element of that is to continue to be open to our staff and students that we are entirely committed to that future as a European focused University. I can announce today that we will establish a new programme of funding so that staff faced with visa or other immigration costs following Brexit, for themselves or their immediate family, can claim up to £5000 in support. More detail will be available in the coming days.

Our student numbers from the European Union are very encouraging, and we must continue to be open to those students in the future. And of course, we must back Erasmus+ fully while also preparing for how we can not only maintain exchanges, but increase mobility options in the future for students across Europe even if the government eventually decides that the UK should not remain in Erasmus or its successor.

Second, we must find ways to support research across the continent. Research is of course not national, it is global. We have enormously strong research links across the continent, and we will continue to ask government to associate with Horizon Europe or, if not, to create straightforward funding schemes to be able to work closely with our partners across Europe. This is particularly important for our early career researchers. We have around 200 such colleagues here at Warwick and they deserve to have access to these networks and research links in the future that so many of us have had in the past.

Third, of course we are deeply embedded in the new EUTOPIA alliance. This is not to overturn existing links in departments and schools, but is instead a way of growing a partnership across the whole university in mobility, joint education, and joint research. EUTOPIA is one of the three European University Alliances with a British partner. It is an important platform for our future.

Brexit is a highly emotive moment for many of us. The past three and a half years of uncertainty have been difficult for everyone, whichever side of the Brexit debate you stand on. But not a day has gone by when I haven’t been reliving the memory of when a public group in Stratford-upon Avon asked me not to abandon Europe and the Europeans that call our university and our region home. And I can assure you now that I have no intention of doing so.

Although I recognise the inevitability of the UK’s departure from the EU tomorrow, I also know that we have to make the best of this situation for our university and all of our staff and students, and also for our city and our region, and that is where I will be focussing my efforts in the future. It is possible to be a European university in a country outside the European Union and we are going to prove that.

Best Wishes,


- 14 comments by 5 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Elaine Robinson

    Hi Stuart

    Me and my immediate family (mum, son and daughter) stand with you on this, it’s going to be one of the saddest days of my life tomorrow, I genuinely mean that.

    We can all stand together and I know for one that I was on the right side of history

    Elaine Robinson – European

    30 Jan 2020, 10:26

  2. Paul Chilton

    Hi Stuart,

    Thanks for this message. It is indeed a bad, sad day. Warwick must remain a European university, and it is immensely reassuring to hear your stance on this. I came to Warwick in 1973, worked here for 25 years, moved on to other universities, then returned as a Visiting Academic in the Centre for Applied Linguistics, where I’m writing a book on… Brexit, discourse and democracy. Let’s keep Warwick at the heart of European scholarship and science!

    Thanks again!

    Paul Chilton
    prof emeritus in linguistics, Lancaster
    formerly Reader in French Studies, Warwick

    30 Jan 2020, 10:55

  3. Nele Kupfer

    Hey Stuart,

    Thank you a lot for your personal view on this hard topic. I’ll start studying philosophy on the Friedrich Schiller university in Jena soon and really want to come as an exchange student to your beautiful university of Warwick next year. Therefore I’m very sad that the UK seriously leaves the EU. I really hope the Erasmus + program between the UK especially with the university of Warwick and the university in Jena will still exist and keep its cooperation!
    I hope for the best ,
    Greetings from Germany,
    Nele Kupfer

    30 Jan 2020, 11:19

  4. John Nisbet

    When Europe tops the science Nobel prizes like Japan and the USA both non-members the of EU, then maybe you have a point. ( Non-science doesn’t count-not really subjects just opinion).
    England has a long history of negotiating its way out of diplomatic advantages so this reduces our “experts” chances to lead our country to our disadvantage in cause of Europeanisation.

    Maybe my knuckles drag but I am an Englishman-what are you?

    I will debate with anybody despite not being a professor of Opinion Studies.

    John Nisbet

    30 Jan 2020, 14:45

  5. Bernard

    Three sensible, heartfelt, constructive comments. And one filled more with words, noise and bluster, but not much logic.

    As much as I am personally sad for the outcome, I mourn even more for what it has done to our country – where lies and deceit by politicians and the media, in sway to the holders of power and money, remain largely uncontested, overlooked and left behind. Misinformation and anger are everything. We are all a part of Bannon and Putin’s world.

    As the US President so wisely said of Boris Johnson: “They call him Britain Trump”.

    30 Jan 2020, 18:21

  6. John Nisbet

    Three sycophantic and superior replies from those who think they are in the know, or one reply from one who is on the button , got the correct result and needs not to grease the pole.

    I don’t know how you can bring yourself to stay when obviously disaster stares you in the face. Have courage and pack your bags.

    Couldn’t see much that was constructive or logical in the other replies, you’ll go far in academia.

    Pax Brittania.

    31 Jan 2020, 13:22

  7. Pamela Thomas

    Thanks Stuart for your comments. It also isn’t the outcome that I wanted personally but it’s now something that we all have to navigate as best we can. We must do as much as possible to ensure that we remain at the heart of Europe in our research and education as well as being international in the wider sense too. As a PVC for Research, I am obviously keenly aware of the implications of Brexit for our many staff from the EU, researchers (students and staff) and for our collaborators within the EU too. I hope that we can help everyone in our Warwick community to make the transition period as smooth as possible and put ourselves in the best position to carry on our work in the way that we would wish and to our usual high standards.
    (For Nobel prizes allied to crystallography up to 2013, see https://dgk-home.de/en/intro-en/nobel-prizes-with-a-crystallographic-reference/ or https://www.iucr.org/people/nobel-prize)

    31 Jan 2020, 13:33

  8. Saifur Rahman

    Instead of European research, let’s focus on getting the best of Britain’s research out there. Britain is better off without the EU.

    02 Feb 2020, 00:49

  9. Fabrizio Parma

    I never felt so European as when I did my MSc at WMG in early 20’s. Students from all Europe, different languages, cultures, customs…that was and must be one of the most powerful treasures and feeders of this great athenaeum.
    Warwick Is at the heart of Europe and Europe Is the heart of Warwick. Culture and research are union, integration, not walls and isolation.

    02 Feb 2020, 22:55

  10. Michael K

    Thank you for your words and guidance on this, Stuart.

    I am a German national and staff member and find the University’s stance on this very encouraging.

    Personally, the EU enabled me to come over here, study, work and settle in this country. I’m now married to an English wife and have 2 lovely children, who grow up bilingual. I’ve contributed to this country by more than just paying tax and NI. I’ve fundraised for playgrounds and worked as a Parish Councillor.

    The referendum did have a profound effect on my life and continues to have. On one hand, it made me feel more connected with my German roots. But on the other, I realised that I am surrounded by lots of lovely British friends and neighbours. Britain is my home and I’ve now been assured that it is after successfully applying for Settled Status. The reason why this was needed eludes me but that’s how it is.

    I am more hopeful for the future now because I see lots of multinational, engaging and strong minded young people walking around campus. The good news is, the EU would always have Britain back!

    04 Feb 2020, 18:53

  11. James

    Of course you don’t need to be in an EU country to be a European university. The suggestion that you do is perpetuated by those who sadly cannot (or wilfully refuse to) distinguish between Europe, a geographical continent and the countries that are part of it, and the European Union, a purely political and economic construct. Brexit is about leaving the latter. It was never (and cannot logically be) about leaving the former. We had a close geographical and political relationship with Europe for many centuries before the EU existed (yes, there was such a time!); we will continue to do so now. We cannot do otherwise, given our location. Most of us who voted to leave did not do so because we are anti-European. We did so because we oppose the actions of the EU and the clear desire of its political leaders to form an authoritarian superstate for which none of us in Europe ever voted. They are very far from being the same things. Yes, some probably voted leave for racist and xenophobic reasons. Sadly some always will express such views. But most of us, however we voted in the referendum and whatever we think of the EU, will continue to love Europe, visit Europe ourselves and welcome Europeans to our country. To suggest anything else is a complete misrepresentation of the reasons for Brexit and deliberately perpetuates the insulting stereotype of leave voters as stupid, ignorant, poorly-educated knuckle-draggers that has sadly characterised some of the more unpleasant debate surrounding the issue. Europeans should recognise this and realise that they are not unwelcome here. There are sadly racists and xenophobes in all countries; they do not represent the views of the majority here any more than they do in any other country.

    05 Feb 2020, 09:56

  12. Andrew Moore

    Stuart. Thank you giving your thoughts and encouragement at this time.

    05 Feb 2020, 16:47

  13. Marie Diebolt

    Thank you for these kind words. I am very proud to work for this university especially as the three years journey towards Brexit has been very emotional. Without the Erasmus programme, I may not have come to study in the UK and I would not call this country my home as I do today. Universities like this one that are the guardians of world peace by nurturing the social, professional and emotional links between people regardless of their nationalities, race, religion or gender. The UK might be out of the EU but it remains European at heart and so does Warwick.

    06 Feb 2020, 08:05

  14. Vicky Harrison

    Hi Crofty,
    I totally agree with all your sentiments. I first met you as an undergraduate in 1993, and although I am no longer involved in the world if academia in any way, it is a travesty that our academic community, and our community in general, no longer have that bond, free interaction and stimulation generated by the exchange of ideas. I know that the academic community in Warwick is being well looked after – but as for Woking FC….

    Regards – and thank you for all your help (you know what I mean) Vicky Harrison

    14 Feb 2020, 22:10

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