A leading Welsh think tank has published a paper which calls for universities to have a leading role in tackling the challenges and opportunities that Wales faces after Brexit.
The paper, ‘After Brexit: the role of higher education’, suggests that Wales’ universities have a unique contribution to make in responding to the many changes that Wales and its people face after March 2019. The Bevan Foundation aimed to understand the long-term implications for Wales of the vote to leave the European Union and to suggest how universities can help Wales tackle the social and economic challenges and opportunities of Brexit. The findings reflect discussions with stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds and the evidence about Wales’ economy and higher education sector.
The Bevan Foundation highlights four potential roles for universities in Wales after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. One of the roles is for universities to be economic anchor institutions, strengthening local and regional economies. Most forecasts suggest that the Welsh economy will contract after Brexit, so universities’ economic output – over £5billion in 2015/16 and more than 49,000 jobs – will be all the more important.
Victoria Winckler, Director of the Bevan Foundation, said:
“Brexit is likely to bring major changes to our economy, job market and communities. Universities can help businesses, public bodies and individuals prepare for these changes. As well as being economic anchors, universities have roles to play sharing their expertise, up-skilling the workforce and making society more equal.”
Professor Julie Lydon, Chair of Universities Wales, said:
“It is good to see so much of what our universities in Wales do reflected in this work. We have a strong university sector in Wales, one that has the highest overall student satisfaction in the UK and which, in the recent Research Excellence exercise, was found to have the highest percentage of world-leading research in the UK in terms of impact.
“This work rightly points out challenges for both our universities and Wales as a whole. Now is the right time to explore these challenges. By finding ways to empower our universities to deliver and build upon their work we can, in turn, ensure that Wales is prepared for the challenges we face in the coming years and decades.”