With the UK withdrawing from the European Union this week, I want to reiterate my message that the University of Stirling is an inclusive, welcoming and international institution. I am proud that you are here, pursuing the life-changing opportunities offered by our learning and teaching, research and innovation. The University is a much richer place for having you here.
Brexit was not a policy advocated by this University, nor the sector as a whole. Now that the Westminster Parliament has approved the UK Government’s Brexit deal, our attentions must turn to a renewed partnership with our European neighbours that both preserves and builds on all that we have achieved.
Over the coming year, the UK Government will seek to negotiate a future relationship with the European Union that will form the basis of future collaboration. Together with colleagues across the sector, I will be working closely to champion a relationship that enables higher education to thrive. We will continue to share the latest information and advice when it is available via the webpages here.
The world faces a number of critical challenges, from an ageing population to climate emergency to the eradication of hunger. Higher education has to be at the heart of the response, and it is through collaboration – in research and innovation and in educating and empowering the leaders of the future – that we will be best-placed to respond to these challenges head-on.
There have been some positive signs from the UK Government, with a commitment to introducing a new fast-track immigration scheme for leading researchers. However, it is vital that any future relationship supports all learners and researchers. In particular, I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament on 15 January, indicating the government remains committed to funding study abroad opportunities, through the Erasmus+ programme. Nonetheless, I will continue to work with colleagues across the sector to ensure student mobility remains a priority.
Regardless of what lies ahead, our University will always welcome educators and learners from all backgrounds and all nations, brought together by our values of excellence, openness and ambition. I deeply value the commitment our staff and students demonstrate, every day, to making a positive difference – and it is in that spirit of togetherness that we must now move ahead.
Professor Gerry McCormac
Principal and Vice-Chancellor