The University has been an international institution since its foundation more than 400 years ago. Now Professor Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice-Principal, has underlined its vital role as a roundly European presence in the world today.
Speaking to an audience of the University’s alumni and supporters in Brussels, Professor Jeffery presented an analysis of last year’s Brexit referendum, including its implications for UK universities, in particular Edinburgh.
Noting that the University has benefitted greatly from free trade and movement, Professor Jeffery was adamant that Edinburgh would work hard to continue the spirit of collaboration.
With free trade comes Erasmus opportunities and EU research funding, while the free movement of people has facilitated the arrival of excellent staff and outstanding students. We are working hard to influence the ongoing processes involving the UK and Scottish governments, as well as EU institutions, and, vitally, working to further cement our ties with partner universities across Europe.
Professor Jeffery equated these links to the free movement of ideas, using the example of how Professor Peter Higgs’s theory on how the fundamental particles of matter attain their mass was verified at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland. The University, he said, will continue in this proud tradition, consistently striving to unveil new possibilities for future generations.
We do so in the context of our historical and present links with Europe, and as a global university which seeks to tackle problems transcending national boundaries.
Professor Jeffery also noted that the University had not seen a fall in the numbers of EU students coming to study at Edinburgh, and had lost neither EU staff nor EU research funding. These factors, he said, are heartening and showed that the University will be well placed to tackle the challenges of a post-Brexit landscape:
The University will continue to wear its heart on its sleeve as a European and international university, and I know that we will be even more global and outward looking in the future, not less.
The event in Brussels, which took place on 8 February, was attended by many members of the Edinburgh University Brussels Society (EUBS), a group of professional alumni who are based in the city and its environs. Co-president, Gabriel Goldberg (International and European Politics, 2002) made a speech praising the University’s commitment to Europe.
EUBS members are attached to the University, with everyone sharing memorable moments of their time at Edinburgh. In the coming years we want to continue with our networking activities while creating a stronger link with the University itself.
The University has published a booklet on its position as a leading European university. You can download a PDF copy via the link below.