Wednesday, 29 March 2017 will go down as a major event in the history of the United Kingdom. It was the day that the UK Government triggered Article 50, so formally beginning the process of withdrawing from the European Union. It is safe to say that this outcome was not one favoured by the majority of people working in higher education. But here in London these sentiments were acute. Any limitations on the ability of staff and students to work and study in London could be disastrous for certain subject areas; languages, the creative arts and medicine in particular. In these areas, EU students and staff can account for more than a quarter of total numbers. These staff are not just academics but technicians and the whole range of staff forming the backbone of any institution.
To ensure that London HE’s voice is not lost in the upcoming Brexit negotiations London Higher has set up the London Brexit Task Group. Chaired by Professor Paul Layzell, Principal, Royal Holloway, University of London, and comprising representatives drawn from across London’s diverse range of institutions, the group also includes colleagues from the Mayor’s Office, London First and Universities UK. Already it has conducted sensitivity analyses on London’s vulnerabilities and conducted a two-day delegation to Brussels to speak directly to the EU Commission, London MEPs and the UK Government’s negotiating team. It’s an example of how London Higher can move fast and in concert with key stakeholders.