Alan Johnson attends a briefing with University of Hull academics to hear why they are better off in the EU


University of Hull with Local Politicians UNI_6337 copy 2

Alan, and MEP Linda McAvan attended the briefing with Professor Calie Pistorius, Vice Chancellor of the University.

At the meeting, they heard that the University has worked on research projects with 25 of the 28 EU member states.

Professor Pistorius said:  “In the referendum debate, the value of the EU to universities and especially with regard to research appears to have been largely overlooked.

“At Hull and other universities, EU membership enhances our research. The benefit is not only in financial terms but also in the international reputation of the University.

“The fact that the University is rated one of the most international in the world is based on our research and collaboration with other countries in the EU.

“There is a huge value in being at the EU table. If you are in the club, you get the chance to shape the research programmes. If we weren’t in the club, we wouldn’t have that opportunity.”

Alan said: “As the referendum approaches, it’s important that the benefits of EU membership to the higher education sector are not overlooked. Being part of the EU enhances university research, which in turn helps create jobs and improve people’s lives. Inside the EU, our universities have a strong voice in shaping the direction of international research. Outside the EU, our voice would be a lot quieter.”

Linda McAvan, MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber and Chair of the European Parliament’s International Development Committee, said: “The UK’s membership of the EU makes British universities stronger.  We have seen this at the University of Hull, where successful projects, like the Logistics Institute, have been able to develop thanks to EU funding. Access to this funding creates jobs, enhances student experience and ensures that the higher education system in the UK is a global leader when it comes to research.”

Since 2008, the University has received more than £12m in EU research grants, enabling it to be part of projects worth more than £200m.

In addition, it has received £7.5m in structural funding towards projects worth £22m, including the establishment of the Logistics Institute.

Founded in 2005, the Logistics Institute is a world-class centre of excellence in global logistics and supply chain management.

The Institute was established with £20m in funding from regional development agency Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund and has helped 530 businesses.

These businesses have created more than 160 new jobs and increased sales by £55m a year. The Institute has also formed partnerships with universities and companies from around the world, including Canada, Morocco and the USA.

Professor Mike Elliott, Director of the Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies at the University of Hull, who initiated the meeting with the MPs, said that European-funded research also helps the University score well when it comes to applying for funding from the UK Government.

He said: “Under the Research Excellence Framework, the University gets a score for how international our research is and the higher the score the more money we get back.

“The research we do for Europe shows we are internationally excellent and enhances our reputation on the UK, European and world stage.”

In the most recent round of EU research funding, the UK was the second largest recipient of grants after Germany.

Professor Elliott said the “bottom line is the UK gets more out of the European research budget than it puts in”.

“UK science is a world player. When it comes to EU grants, the UK and Germany are the biggest beneficiaries. We get more grants, bigger amounts and publish more research papers than other members of the EU,” he added.

“EU funding has also allowed thousands of our students, many of whom have never been out of the UK, to study and work in Europe through the Erasmus programme.”

 The University of Hull was recently ranked in the top 200 most international universities in the world by Times Higher Education.

To compile the rankings, Times Higher Education looked at each institution’s proportion of international staff and students and proportion of research papers published with at least one co-author from another country.

Earlier this year, Professor Pistorius was one of 103 Vice Chancellors to sign an open letter to the Sunday Times, which said that being part of the EU meant UK universities were better able to collaborate with partners across Europe on “cutting edge research”.

Professor Pistorius added: “Being part of the EU increases the breadth of research partnerships and research activity in a way that single project funding by UK research councils can’t do. The University is currently looking to secure further investment from Europe that could help support the scale of our ambition.”


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