(The original articles was written for and published by the Cambridge University Graduate Union. Link here)
The following short article provides an outline on the current understanding of Brexit and its implications for students, as well as guidelines and advices for the next months.
What does Brexit mean ?
The term is an amalgamation of the words Britain and exit, and it is used to refer to the UK leaving the European Union (EU), the political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. Currently, the EU and UK have agreed a further delay to Brexit until 31 October 2019. The UK Government is committed to trying to leave the EU with a deal as soon as possible; unless and until it does, the default position will be to leave the European Union without a deal on 31st October 2019 (see link here).
What are the implications for University of Cambridge?
According to the Advisory Group on Strategic Responses to Brexit (2018), the UK’s decision to leave the EU is likely to have a major impact for the University of Cambridge and for the higher education sector in general. For instance, in 2017, 19.6% of the University’s employees, 11% of its undegrad students and 24% of its postgrad students were from non-UK European Economic Area countries. Moreover, the financial value of EU research funding currently accounts for c.18% of the University’s total research income. For example, Horizon 2020, an EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020), has contributed to research projects in the UK, which has secured €5.5 billion of funding to date – c.13.5% of the total (see GOV.UK 2019)
In response to the increasing uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU and the risk of a no-deal situation, the Vice-Chancellor established an Advisory Group to consider the University’s strategic response to the potential outcome of the negotiations. As mentioned by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Toope (2018), the University is “not just passively waiting for Brexit to happen” but, through detailed scenario planning, political engagement, and a strong focus on international partnerships, is actively working to ensure that Cambridge is able to bring its “fullest contribution to society, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.”
What resources and supports are currently available for students and staff?
The University of Cambridge has set up a dedicated Brexit website. On this site, you can find FAQs on issues such as fees and funding, key University contacts for staff and students, as well as the latest Brexit analysis from Cambridge experts. This website will be the main point of contact for Brexit-related questions or issues, and it will be regularly refreshed as new information emerges, and further updates on Brexit-related issues will be sent to University members in the coming months. There will also be more open meetings organised by the University and by the Cambridge University Graduate Union (GU) announced in the near future. The website can be found at the following link: www.eu.admin.cam.ac.uk.
What about welfare and mental health support?
The phases before and after Brexit could also have an impact on personal welfare. For welfare related issues, including mental health support, UCS and SUAS can offer confidential services. The University Counselling Service (UCS) provides free, specialist and confidential mental health service to students. This Service also employs Mental Health Advisors (MHAs) who provide support for students experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties. In addition to the University Counselling Service, some Colleges directly employ Counsellors to support students experiencing mental health difficulties. The Student Unions’ Advice Service (SUAS)offers free confidential information, advice and support to all Cambridge University students. SUAS can help students understand the University and College regulations including intermission, extensions to submission deadlines, exam reviews and examination allowances, disciplinary issues, and offer support with mental health issues and welfare concerns.