Brexit and Two Visitors to the Office
For two months over the summer the number of staff in the office doubled – Naomi Popple, an Ambitious Futures graduate trainee from the University of York came to Brussels for a two month placement before heading back to York to finish her trainee programme and then moving onto her PhD at the University of Leeds. Naomi’s project in Brussels was to investigate the possibility of setting up an informal networking group of Brussels-based university offices, of a similar ilk to the White Rose Brussels Office. In a very limited time period, Naomi did a fantastic job, she met with numerous offices and as a result we will be holding our first informal meeting in early September. Naomi was also very proactive in working in other areas of office work, such as maintaining the website, drafting the first newsletter and increasing the number of followers of the White Rose Brussels Twitter account by five times.
The result of the UK’s referendum on the EU in June was a shock to the whole academic sector, who were invariably pro-EU. There have been some unexpected repercussions from the vote to leave, for example a number of UK academics have been asked to leave consortia for future Horizon 2020 bids as the perceived risk of having a UK partner – and the uncertainty of continued funding of the project once the UK has left the EU – was seen as greater than the benefit of having them in the consortium. The Chancellor’s commitment to guarantee to fund/underwrite all EU funded projects with UK partners after the UK has left the EU, has been timely and should help allay the anxiety across the academic sector. The 3 universities have been fully supportive of continuing to work with European partners and as such in continuing to have a presence in Brussels. It’s likely that the objectives of the office will have to change in this new political environment, however we are waiting for clarity on the UK’s new relationship with the EU. All 3 universities, as are the Russell Group and Universities UK, are supportive of the UK being able to access EU funding after we have left the EU.
And finally I had another visitor to the office, Nozomu Ebisui, Associate Manager from the Office of Research Development and Sponsored Projects, Keio University. Nozomu was based in York for a few months, with the aim to learn more about what York does so as to foster collaborations with Keio University. Nozomu visited Brussels for a few days as part of his European tour and met with numerous stakeholders in Brussels to learn more about European funding and how Japanese researchers can be involved.