European Commission
Professor Richardson met academics and policymakers in Brussels

Kevin White (Flickr Creative Commons)

Oxford and Cambridge VCs meet academics and policymakers in Brussels

The Vice-Chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge universities held "extremely constructive" meetings with academics and policymakers in Brussels last week, as the UK’s departure date from the European Union approaches.

Professor Louise Richardson of Oxford and Professor Stephen Toope of Cambridge signed a renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ULB. They met ULB’s Rector, Professor Yvon Englert, and discussed the continued importance of research and academic exchanges between the three institutions.

They also met EU officials including Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation; Kurt Vandenberghe, Director for Policy Development and Coordination at the European Commission's Directorate-General (DG) for Research and Innovation; and Brendan Hawdon, Counsellor to the DG for Research and Innovation.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: “I was quite moved by the commitment of everyone we met, whether officials of the Commission or European academics, to do everything they can to ensure the continued integration of British and EU research post Brexit.”

These meetings were particularly important because Oxford researchers perform very strongly in applications for funding grants from Horizon 2020. Oxford is the number one university in receipt of  Horizon 2020 funding, having been awarded a total of 511 grants. Oxford has had 164 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions research fellowships funded in Horizon 2020, worth more than €31 million.

Preparing for changes to the research funding landscape after Brexit is a priority for the University. But some encouragement has come from the UK government’s guarantee that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it will fund the balance of UK participation in existing collaborative projects.

Professor Richardson added: “The Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge and I travelled to Brussels to meet the Rector of ULB, Professor Yvon Englert, and to sign a renewal of our MOU which supports research and academic exchanges between the three institutions. While in Brussels we held extremely constructive meetings with EU officials including Commissioner Carlos Moedas, Director Kurt Vandenberghe and Counsellor Brendan Hawdon, DG Research.”

More information is available here on Oxford University’s position on Brexit and how it is preparing for Brexit, including support for its many EU staff and students.

Photograph, L to R: Commissioner Moedas, Professor Toope, Professor Richardson, Professor Englert: