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International outlook for founding of new network

21 October 2016

UEA was founded with an international outlook. It’s in our DNA, it’s at the heart of our interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to research. We have always welcomed students and staff from around the world and we always will.

It’s for all those reasons and more that I find myself in Amsterdam today with UEA colleagues and students for the launch of a new European network that this University has been instrumental in creating. The new network is called Aurora.

The Aurora network is not a direct response to Brexit. It’s been longer in the gestation than that. Aurora is a response to the need to have a different kind of network of similar research-intensive universities that can learn from each other and are committed to helping solve society’s problems. It is worth noting not all of the universities are from EU countries. Both Norway and Iceland have universities joining Aurora today.

Aurora is a new network of nine European universities with similar philosophies and a shared mission to make a real difference to society. The nine founding institutions are: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands), Université Grenoble-Alpes (France), University of Aberdeen (Scotland), University of Antwerp (Belgium), University of Bergen (Norway), University of Duisberg-Essen (Germany), University of East Anglia (England), University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Iceland.  

Today’s launch has been preceded by workshops in Amsterdam and Grenoble involving all member universities identifying areas where Aurora can add real value to society by working together on important societal challenges such as sustainability, climate and energy, digital technology and society, student experience and innovation in teaching and learning, human life and health, and transformations in a globalising society.

We need to continue looking outward and working with researchers and students from around the world. Aurora is part and parcel of that proud UEA tradition. You can watch a short video about Aurora here.

Moving on from our new network, I would also like to give a very warm welcome to the c.400 students from non-UK EU countries who arrived to study at UEA last month. We’re delighted you’re here and you will always be part of our family of nations. You can personally show your support for that international philosophy by supporting our UEA is United social media campaign

As the UK heads towards Article 50 we’ve been meeting with our MPs to help them understand the value of our international outlook to the quality of teaching, research and the positive cultural and economic impact the university has on our home city and region. We are also contributing to the House of Commons select committee report into Brexit and the potential impact on universities.

We are also looking to them to provide reassurance to our non-UK EU staff that they will have the right to remain living and working in the UK. On that theme, an event for UEA’s non-UK EU staff is being held on 9 November to discuss the potential impacts of Brexit. Alex Russell, employment lawyer at Mills & Reeve, will present a briefing session looking at key issues following the referendum outcome for non-UK EU citizens currently working at UEA and their families.

Prof Hussein Kassim is also organising a series of Brexit events over the coming months - more details will be provided as events are confirmed. On December 8, the deputy chief executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, will be joining a panel discussion and giving us the latest on how Brexit is developing and what it might mean for higher education.


"On Track, the strength of UEA lies in its universal composition."      Aliyu Adamu Isa


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