Con­ti­nen­tal af­fairs

War­wick pairs up with French and Bel­gian part­ners

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS - Jack.grove@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

A UK univer­sity has launched two ma­jor teach­ing and re­search col­lab­o­ra­tions with higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions in Paris and Brussels, amid con­cern about the slow pace of Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The Univer­sity of War­wick said on 28 March that it would cre­ate a num­ber of joint de­grees, joint PhD stu­dentships and joint early ca­reer re­search fel­low­ships with the Univer­sity of Paris Seine and Vrije Univer­siteit Brus­sel.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion will also see the ap­point­ment of a math­e­mat­ics lec­turer at Paris Seine, who will spend three months of the year at War­wick, and the start of sev­eral new stu­dent ex­changes and teach­ing and re­search link-ups.

Stu­art Croft, War­wick’s vicechan­cel­lor, said that the un­cer­tainty around the UK’s in­volve­ment in the Euro­pean Union re­search and mo­bil­ity projects be­yond 2020 had un­der­lined the need for uni­ver­si­ties to build their own bi­lat­eral projects.

“Politi­cians in and out of of­fice in ev­ery coun­try in Europe are still de­lib­er­at­ing how the UK can still be part of [these projects] in fu­ture but we can’t af­ford sim­ply to wait for that to be fully re­solved,” Pro­fes­sor Croft said. “We chose to act now not just to show our com­mit­ment to work to­gether in fu­ture but to be­gin work on a range of ac­tiv­i­ties that de­liver on such a com­mit­ment.”

Seán Hand, deputy pro-vicechan­cel­lor (Europe) at War­wick, told Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion that, while the univer­sity’s new part­ner­ships were “Brexit-re­lated”, they rep­re­sented more than “just a re­ac­tion to Brexit”.

“Brexit has fo­cused peo­ple’s minds on what is truly valu­able and what they feel pas­sion­ate about – these in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tions af­firm what we are about as a univer­sity, as well as the im­por­tance of Europe [to UK academia],” said Pro­fes­sor Hand.

War­wick “has been an in­ter­na­tional [univer­sity] from its begin­ning” with one of its found­ing depart­ment heads in 1966 com­ing from over­seas, said Pro­fes­sor Hand, who added that it still had a high pro­por­tion of non-UK EU aca­demics among its fac­ulty.

War­wick has had a teach­ing base in Venice for his­tory and his­tory of art stu­dents for 40 years, and has oc­cu­pied the 15th-cen­tury Palazzo Pe­saro-Pa­pafava since 2007.

Sev­eral other UK uni­ver­si­ties have es­tab­lished closer col­lab­o­ra­tions with Euro­pean re­search in­sti­tu­tions since the Brexit vote, with Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don open­ing a joint math­e­mat­ics lab­o­ra­tory with the French Na­tional Center for Sci­en­tific Re­search, the Univer­sity of Ox­ford cre­at­ing an al­liance with four uni­ver­si­ties in Ber­lin, and King’s Col­lege Lon­don con­sid­er­ing open­ing a branch cam­pus in Dres­den.

Com­ment­ing on the new part­ner­ship be­tween War­wick and Vrije Univer­siteit Brus­sel, its rec­tor Caro­line Pauwels said that the col­lab­o­ra­tion in­di­cated a de­sire for closer aca­demic links be­tween the UK and Europe.

“Politi­cians in Europe may choose to go their own way, but we as aca­demics choose to move in the other di­rec­tion,” said Pro­fes­sor Pauwels. “We don’t build walls be­tween our uni­ver­si­ties and so­ci­eties. We break them down.”

Com­mit­ted ‘in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tions af­firm what we are about as a univer­sity’

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