Vice-Chancellor news

Universities UK (UUK) International Unit visit to Brussels

As Chair of the UK HE International Unit I led a delegation to Brussels on Monday 13 and Tuesday 14 October. In that role I meet members of the European Commission and European Parliament once or twice a year to represent the interests of UK higher education, because European policy is critical to all our futures. It’s not only a major source of funding (€80 bn over the next seven years through Horizon 2020 alone) but the broader legal and policy framework affects everything from employment law to student fees and recruitment. It’s hard to gauge the immediate effect of these kinds of visits, but as a sector we do need to undertake them on a reasonably regular basis so that we are a recognisable presence. I can’t always make it personally but it’s helpful for continuity when I can. The main topics of conversation concerned funding levels for Horixon 2020 over the next couple of years – they are still subject to negotiation between the Council of Ministers, the Parliament and the Commission, and in danger of significant reduction next year – and the Erasmus+ programme. The UK’s success in promoting outward mobility has led to a scarcity of funding in that area too, so we’re putting a lot of effort into ensuring our students are not disadvantaged.