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On Wednesday 28 March, Caroline Pauwels, rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and Stuart Croft, vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick in the UK, signed a collaboration agreement in the University of Warwick’s base in London’s Shard building. This is a remarkable move, as the consequences of Brexit for cooperation between European and British institutions are still not clear. The two universities are aiming to strengthen their ties – beginning with a joint master’s programme in Politics, International Studies and European Integration.
Since the Brexit referendum, UK universities have been looking for opportunities to strengthen their ties with the European continent. VUB’s ambition has always been to deepen partnerships with universities all over Europe and elsewhere.
Caroline Pauwels, rector of Vrije Universiteit Brussel:
“This agreement is an opportunity for both our universities. Politicians in Europe may choose to go their own way, but we as academics choose to move in the other direction. We don’t build walls between our universities and societies. We break them down.”
Professor Stuart Croft, The University of Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor:
“Europe wide research and teaching collaboration has helped transform the lives not just of our students and researchers, it has underpinned jobs, and spurred innovation and advances in health, manufacturing, culture and so much more. Politicians in and out of office in every country in Europe are still deliberating how the UK can still be part of that in future but we can’t afford simply to wait for that to be fully resolved. We chose to act now not just to show our commitment to work together in future but to begin work on a range of activities that delivers on such a commitment.”
Double master’s in Politics, International Studies and European Integration
VUB’s Institute for European Studies (IES) has had good relations with the University of Warwick for many years. The new agreement is an opportunity to deepen the collaboration with this high-ranked UK university. The two institutions share the same values, such as internationalisation, coupled with the desire for a strong local and regional presence and impact.
Luk Van Langenhove, academic director of the IES and senior advisor for European strategy to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick:
“Over the past decade, IES and the University of Warwick have worked together on several European research projects. We are now expanding our educational and research collaboration. We are planning to organise a double master’s by linking Warwick’s master’s in Politics and International Studies with the IES master’s in European Integration. It will involve one year at Warwick and one year in Brussels and will start in the 2019/2020 academic year.”
The collaboration will be university-wide. The VUB Communication Sciences department is exploring the possibility of starting a joint master’s programme with Warwick, while students of VUB’s bachelor’s programme in Social Sciences will be able to follow an exchange programme at Warwick’s Social Sciences department, and vice versa. The universities are also exploring a partnership between Warwick Medical School and VUB’s Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in areas such as reproductive health. And there are plans to initiate five joint PHD studentships and fund two fellowships for young researchers.
Caroline Pauwels, rector Vrije Universiteit Brussel:
“VUB doesn’t just have good relations with universities abroad. We also have a longstanding and fruitful collaboration with our local sister university, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). In the near future, I hope to take this local collaboration to a next level of strong interinstitutional links with the University of Warwick. The fact that our universities are located in the heart of the EU and the fact that we offer master’s and bachelor’s programmes in English – with a new bachelor’s in Business Economics starting at VUB in September this year – is an added value for all Warwick students and, by extension, all UK students. I’m looking forward to welcoming them all to our campuses in Brussels.”
Professor Seán Hand, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Europe) at the University of Warwick:
“Our new partnership with Vrije Universiteit Brussel is a key part of Warwick’s long-term strategy of extensive and ambitious European engagement. We shall seek to strike complementary and innovative partnerships with our European counterparts that will collectively form a dynamic network centred on truly collaborative research, teaching, and enterprise activities. One especially exciting feature of this is the opportunity to develop multilateral arrangements that involve several nations, systems and disciplines. Warwick is a highly internationalist university, with an established presence in key European cities. At a time of significant national and international changes affecting our sector, we naturally wish to be in the vanguard of educational innovation in Europe.”
About The University of Warwick
The University of Warwick is one of the UK’s leading research universities. Warwick ranked 7th overall in the UK Government’s most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014. Four of its departments were ranked as the leading academic department for outputs (publications) in the country. The REF described 87% of Warwick’s research as ‘world -leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Warwick’s Global Research Priorities focus its world-class, multidisciplinary research on key areas of international significance. Warwick has just under 26,000 students 9,400 of which are postgraduates. Warwick has students from over 140 countries.
Financial Times: “Warwick links up with Paris and Brussels universities”
The Brussels Times: “VUB and University of Warwick agreeto strengthen ties despite Brexit”
Flanders News: “VUB and Warwick defy Brexit rift”