During the tricky Brexit negotiations, NRI industrialist Lord Swaraj Paul said that the UK government should develop “workable policies” including “pragmatic” immigration reforms, to promote Britain as an attractive destination for international students. He also admitted that Brexit negotiations would be complex, tricky and time-consuming.
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Participating in a debate at the House of Lords on the potential impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) on funding for universities and scientific research, Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton Swaraj Paul said, “But, we must not allow our universities to be unnecessarily and unhelpfully constrained.”
Paul requested the government to promote and grow global opportunities for UK students and staff by enhancing mobility programmes and creating an environment that facilitates the recruitment and retention of the best available talent.
He noted that last year, the total value of knowledge exchange interaction between UK universities and their partners across the economy increased to 4.2 billion pounds.
The higher education sector generates nearly 11 billion pounds per annum in export earnings, he added.
Excerpts from Swaraj Paul’s view:
- Government needs to “develop workable policies to promote the UK as an attractive destination for all international students and staff – including considerate and pragmatic immigration policy reforms”
- “Collectively, we have some 1,25,000 EU students and 43,000 EU staff in our universities – all adding value to our economy.”
- “Universities help create new jobs and new businesses in communities – last year alone there were over 4,100 new start- ups founded by UK graduates, a great many nurtured by our universities.”
- “My own University of Wolverhampton has recently created the Caparo Management Suite as a forum space in which business leaders, academics and students can all come together to exchange ideas and promote new business opportunities and development.”
- “However, a decision has been made and we must all accept the result and work constructively with the government to support the best possible outcome for the UK during the negotiations and beyond.”
Britain leads the world in terms of return on investment from commercialisation of research and matches the US in its level of engagement with industry, Paul said.
At the outset, he said that the outcome of the EU referendum was not the result that most in the higher education sector wanted, wished for or indeed expected.