EU referendum: what next?
After the shock of the EU referendum result last week, and as the implications become clearer for our University and beyond, I wanted to write to let you know what this University is doing to ensure that we preserve the scholarship and values of an inclusive global community which are so precious to us all.
As I said in my message to staff last week, I am personally dismayed at the harm we may have done, but I am determined to make the very best of our strengths and to seek the reassurance many of you will need.
In some cases, answers will be slow in coming, with a timetable outside our control. However, I will keep up the pressure to do all I can.
This coming week I will be in London meeting with the Minister for Universities as well as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) of which I am a board member, the Russell Group of research intensive universities and the Higher Education Policy Institute. I will also be meeting with colleagues from the research community and a number of key partners.
In each of these meetings, I will be seeking to continue the work which is so crucial for our students, scholarship and communities. I will also be seeking opportunities which we shall need more than ever in the months and years ahead.
I have also tasked a number of colleagues to work quickly in support of key groups, drawing together advice we can share with home and international students (in particular those from other EU states), applicants, our own staff, research leads and research partners, alumni and other advisers.
Our Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West will work closely with me on longer term scenario planning, supported by expertise from across our University. I had already asked her to lead vital work to consider the most efficient use of our human and financial resources against a background of reduced public funding and a national downturn in international student numbers. This whole-university perspective will be even more essential in the current situation.
It is also important that we remember our wider communities. This University is essential to the wellbeing of its city and region and our success is the core of opportunity and economic growth. As an employer, bringer of inward investment (through students and our research partners) our city leaders all acknowledge that our role is key. I will be making sure they know we have not forgotten that, and I am confident they will be with us as we lobby for crucial policy changes or investment.
As I said last week, the challenges we face will be many, and the uncertainty and sadness felt by many of you at this outcome is tangible. I am heartened at the support I see our students and staff showing for one another.
This morning we have heard that EU nationals or their family members, currently in higher education or due to begin courses this autumn, will continue to receive loans and grants until they finish their course.
But those of you who have specific questions do please share them with your line managers or email directly to Eu@sheffield.ac.uk. I will also be making time in my diary as far as possible to speak with many of you over the coming weeks, and I will share with you more concrete information and our response to that as soon as I can.
To all those of you who have offered me your support at this difficult time of transition, thank you. We shall face our challenges together, knowing that we share the privilege of teaching and seeking to understand which have sustained this institution for over a century.
Professor Sir Keith Burnett CBE FRS FRSW