With politicians and commentators of all persuasions expressing their views about possible Brexit scenarios, the University’s preparations are being stepped up for a scenario in which the UK departs the EU on 29 March with no agreement and no transition arrangements.
Whatever your personal views about the prospect of ‘no deal’, I’m sure we can all agree the importance of considering the possible consequences for the University, its staff and students and of being as prepared as possible. Members of the Executive Board are leading several strands of work as we review preparations and monitor political developments. Heads of Departments have also been asked to provide input on any specific areas of risk not already covered. In the short term, we are identifying the concrete steps we need to take to enable the University to continue to operate effectively and minimise disruption.
Colleagues in HR have been providing support and advice with 240 people so far attending immigration presentations and 197 receiving individual immigration advice sessions. Advice and guidance for staff and students is being reviewed and updated as new information emerges, such as the announcement made by the Prime Minister about waiving the fee for the so-called ‘EU Settlement Scheme’: https://www.bath.ac.uk/topics/the-uks-exit-from-the-eu
There has been widespread speculation about disruption to travel which might affect students abroad on placements or staff travelling on University business around 29 March. Advice is being prepared and will be provided to colleagues or students who are concerned.
Delays at ports could also create problems for supply chains. For example Sharp, who manage the University Print Service, are ensuring that there are sufficient spare parts for printers in stock. We’re also in discussions with catering suppliers, Fresh and others in a similar vein.
The Department of Computing Services has thought through the implications of Brexit on where data is stored and is actively planning for possible implications for the web-based applications and systems the University uses.
Whilst these arrangements are focused on the immediate consequences of a “no deal” Brexit, our medium term response to the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU must consider issues such as research funding, research collaborations, student/staff recruitment and student/staff mobility.
As an example of our determination to remain true to our vision of being ‘an international centre of research and teaching excellence’, the University has established a physical presence in Brussels in partnership with the University of Bristol and others. This will help us to network with key stakeholders and policy makers and raise our profile in Europe. The value of this initiative will be considered in the context of our new Internationalisation Strategy which is being led by Professor Jeremy Bradshaw, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International and Doctoral), in consultation with colleagues across campus.
Together with my colleagues on the University Executive Board I will do all I can to keep staff and students informed of our short and longer term plans in what seems likely to be a very fluid environment for some time to come. If you have specific suggestions or concerns please do make these known either via your line manager or direct to any member of the Management team.
Professor Bernie Morley, Acting Vice-Chancellor