In the week that has seen Lord Nicholas Stern, President of The British Academy calling for “clear reassurance” to be given to EU researchers in the UK of their future in Britain, at a House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. A staff-organized Network has been announced at The Open University to provide support for the issues of uncertainty following the Leave vote.
The International Community Support Network group is at present organised by Professor Nacho Romero, Chair in Cellular Neuroscience, Faculty of STEM with the support of 110 colleagues. The aim of the Network is to give a forum to those directly affected by the Leave vote. Members in the Network now have a resource through which their concerns and anxieties can be addressed these include both staff and postgrad research students (EU and non-UK).
Peter Horrocks, Vice-Chancellor of the OU and his leadership team have welcomed the formation of the Network with their full support. At a recent meeting of the group Peter Horrocks gave his personal reassurance and commitment to support all non-UK staff during this transitional period saying:
“The global perspective, talents and skills of our staff is a critical part of who we are – acting as a stimulus for everything we do and contributing hugely to the difference we continue to make for all our students.”
Through the Network its members will be provided with:
• Specialist information support (through an appropriate third party) on residency and citizenship issues.
• Interest-free loans to affected staff seeking to make an application for residency or citizenship.
• The OU working closely with OU Students Association to amplify the sharing information and support.
• To create a staff-specific subgroup of the EU Working Group, chaired by the University Secretary, with representatives from the EU Staff Support Network
While the Leave result has created a climate of uncertainty for the whole of the UK, some sectors of the population, including migrants and ethnic minority individuals, are currently and will be facing specific issues over and above those of the general population. It is hoped that such a provision within the OU will help provide some reassurance for its staff.