On 23 November, the University of Glasgow held a Staff and Student Forum on public concerns around Brexit. The event was led by the Principal of the University of Glasgow, Anton Muscatelli.
The panel consisted of a range of Directors and Vice Principals from the University of Glasgow, as well as Ameer Ibrahim, the President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC).
Professor Muscatelli started the event by stating that Brexit is a “matter of huge concern to all of us in the university”. He stated that there is a “huge advantage in being part of a structure that allows us to share ideas”.
With around 25% of staff at the University of Glasgow being EU (European Union) citizens, Brexit is expected to impact both teaching staff and students.
The forum determined that the university will continue with “business as usual” and aim to minimise the effect the vote to leave the EU will have on university life.
The forum collectively believed that being a member of the EU was good for the UK, citing the positives of research collaboration and encouraging student mobility.
As a European himself, Professor Muscatelli stated that the vote to leave felt like “a vote against [him], individually”. Muscatelli discussed the idea that some of the reasons people voted for Brexit had nothing to do with the EU. One example was the “crisis” of increasing inequality, where the UK is making more money, but that money is increasingly being put into the hands of the rich.
One of the questions asked was on the topic of funding research after Brexit. Professor Muscatelli stated that “currently, we get more out than we put in [to the EU]”. He mentioned that if the UK wants a continued relationship with Europe for research, they will have to pay to participate. Vice Principal for Research, Professor Miles Padgett told the forum: “It wasn’t just about the money – it was about the international connectivity”.
Another question regarded placements for modern languages students, which currently rely on the Erasmus program. Vice Principal of Internationalisation James Conroy said that the university has made sure that there are substantial bilateral agreements with foreign institutions to ensure that these placements can continue.
Staff are currently being interviewed in order to find the best way to support them through Brexit. This procedure is not currently open to students, but Professor Muscatelli pledged: “We have to make sure our students are well looked after and will do what we can.”
Muscatelli suggested that students should use the SRC’s free legal advice service if they are concerned about the legal impact that Britain leaving the EU may have on them.