The University of Exeter has considered putting the brakes on a 10-year £400million investment programme because of Brexit.
Prof. Mark Goodwin, deputy vice chancellor for Innovation and External Engagement at the university, said that uncertainty had made bosses think twice, even though all the pieces are in place to stride ahead.
He said: “We want to make £40million a year capital investment over ten years but we are wondering now if we should given the uncertainty about Brexit.”
Prof. Goodwin was speaking at the launch of the Western Morning News Annual Business Guide last week.
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Sir Steve Smith, the Vice-Chancellor at Exeter University is chairman of the Universities UK policy group, which is negotiating the shape of relationships with European academics after Britain leaves the EU.
Prof. Goodwin told leading businessmen and women across the region that they discovered during a Russell Group delegation to Brussels that the EU has had a 600 strong team of trade specialists working on Brexit for a year, while the UK only has 20 civil servants with experience of trade negotiations.
He said: “The outcomes of Brexit for the university are just as uncertain as they are for all of you – we don’t know whether we will continue to have access to European research funds, or whether we will be able to recruit EU students in the same numbers as now, or what effect Brexit will have on the 15% of our staff who are from the EU. We expect to see a significant impact on regional development funding, on EU students and EU staff mobility, and on EU research funding and networks. And we can’t see the government being able to fill the gap in our business that this will make.”
His comment s come as numbers of EU students at the Russell Group university dropped 10 per cent this year to 3,000.
Currently, 17 per cent (33,735) of academic staff at UK universities are from other EU countries and there are more than 125,000 EU students studying at UK universities.
In terms of research collaboration, the UK is one of the main players in the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.
The university is partnered with business in more than 1000 projects with a total value of over £50million.
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Its turnover is more than £400million a year and growing.
Prof. Goodwin said: “We recently looked at what our current impact is in the wider economy across the South West – and it’s around £600million a year including the purchasing power of our students. International students alone bring £80m a year to the city of Exeter.”
Prof. Goodwin said the university had recently launched a £3m partnership with the University of Queensland, one of the top two universities in Australia. It also work with businesses world-wide, like Huawei, Merck, Sanofi, Nike and Astra Zeneca, and hosted a team from the Singapore Science and Technology Agency looking to connect South West businesses with scientists, investment funds and opportunities in South East Asia.
It is also about to start new Research Development and Innovation hubs in Cornwall to support the marine technology and renewables industry, agri-tech, healthcare and space sectors – in partnership with other regional players and supported by EU funding.
Source: Devon live