Britain has voted to leave the EU in this week’s referendum. Our live blog will round up the implications for HE and the reactions from across the world of universities.
On what many would call a bleak day for UK higher education, thank you to everyone who followed our live blog today. We hope you found it informative and helpful, as we tried to shed a brief light on the issues the sector will have to deal with within the wider context of Brexit. You can revisit the highlights of our coverage below.
We plan to have more insight and analysis on Wonkhe throughout the weekend and into next week, as well as a full and comprehensive assessment of the challenges facing the sector in our Monday Morning Briefing. If you aren’t subscribed yet, just click here.
On behalf of everyone at Team Wonkhe, I wish you all a good weekend.
During the referendum campaign the Minister for Skills, Nick Boles, said that a Leave vote could delay or even abruptly terminate plans to introduce an apprenticeship levy, a 0.5% payroll tax on large companies that would be used to pay for apprenticeships and skills training. The policy was the cornerstone of the government’s target to deliver 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 and make apprenticeship routes an attractive alternative to higher education. The policy is quite unpopular with many businesses and its implementation was looking like it would be fiendishly complicated to deliver. Universities were concerned that they would have to pay the levy, though there has recently been much discussion in the sector about how higher education providers could be involved in delivering more apprenticeships at level 4 and above.
Now, with dangers and uncertainty lurking for much of the British economy, there will be increased pressure not to introduce a tax which businesses will claim will stifle growth. We have little idea how members of a Brexiter-led government feel about the policy. As we’ve already mentioned today, we also have no idea how BIS will have the capacity to deliver it.
The cruel irony of all this is that the the Remain and Leave votes are so sharply divided along educational lines. Angry non-graduates, frustrated by the lack of appealing life opportunities, were the core of the Brexit vote, especially in isolated towns in the north and east of England. The government’s reforms to apprenticeships and other aspects of skills policy were supposed to give new hopes and routes to this demographic. Now, the vote for Brexit may well have terminated such ambitions and might further widen the gap between the 50% lucky enough to attend university (who lost this referendum) and the 50% who do not go to university (who have won).
More higher education and research leaders have been giving their perspectives on today’s result. They range from the stoic to the despairing.
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, said: “One of the great strengths of UK research has always been its international nature, and we need to continue to welcome researchers and students from abroad. Any failure to maintain the free exchange of people and ideas between the UK and the international community including Europe could seriously harm UK science.”
Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, called the Brexit vote “deeply depressing – a view shared across mainland Europe. Support for the EU was strong, especially among the young, the universities, the technical community, and a majority of our business and professional leaders. Despite all that, we’re landed with a frightening scenario.”
Dame Anne Glover, vice principal of Aberdeen University and former EU chief scientific adviser, felt “personally heartbroken. I have great concern for the future of British science, engineering and technology,” she said.
Peter Horrocks, vice chancellor of the Open University, said in a letter to OU staff, “Such a convulsive national event will take the university and our own lives into unknown territory. I believe this is a time when universities, their capacity for thinking and their values will be required more than ever. At a time when many voters are expressing their anger at their economic and social lot, what this university stands for and what it can do for individuals and society is deeply needed. Our values are to be inclusive, innovative and responsive. By holding true to those values and calmly thinking our way through this unprecedented situation we can hold steady and play our part.”
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said, “We note this result with disappointment. My position on this issue is well known, but 52% of voters in the Referendum disagreed. We will work with our partners in business, research and academia, as well as our European partners and the Government, to understand the implications of this outcome.”
It is a very depressing day for wonks, academics and anyone else who might claim to be an “expert” that Michael Gove so derides. As several commentators on Wonkhe and in the press have noted, the vote for Brexit is a very deliberate rejection of expertise, evidence and the people who claim to possess such qualities. Data and ‘reality’ appear to count for very little. Remarkably, the Financial Times has shown that there is a remarkable correlation between a region’s reliance on EU funding and the strength of the vote to Leave.
But now is not the time for wonks to give up. The scale of the task before Whitehall and UK civil society is absolutely immense. There is an unending number of small and unthought-of issues that were previously reliant on our relationship with the European market, European law and cross-European relationships. It is phenomenally complicated. Higher education is only one of a number of sectors where expertise will be desperately needed. It cannot be emphasised enough: this will take years to fix, well beyond the two years after the now infamous Article 50 is triggered.
For once, higher education might be grateful that it is overseen by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, rather than the Department for Education. BIS will play a critical role in negotiating the terms of our divorce settlement with the EU, and subsequently our future relationship settlement with the EU and the rest of the world. The workload will be immense, but at least higher education should get some consideration in how the department approaches the task.
According to Professor Michael Dougan of the University of Liverpool, a specialist in EU law, Brexit will involve four particular challenges. Each will keep wonks, lawyers, academics, lobbyists and economists very busy indeed.
1 – Internal UK law. According to Professor Dougan, “There will have to be a comprehensive review of the UK legal system because for 40 years UK law has evolved in combination with, under the influence of, EU law and the two are virtually impossible to disentangle. This will be an enormous technical undertaking”. Parliament will simply not be able to legislate for every issue that needs to be considered, and on those issues that is does, it is not difficult to anticipate difficulties and division. The very reason leading Conservative Brexiters wanted to leave the EU was to revoke and reverse several controversial aspects of EU law they felt were ‘imposed’ by Brussels, including issues related to employment rights and environmental regulations that Labour campaigned about. Other legal decisions will have to be delegated to the government in order to ease the burden on Parliament. Civil servants and ministers will be making some critical decisions on a range of issues related to British law, in quite a similar way to the notorious ‘Eurocrats’ so despised by the Leave campaign.
2 – UK constitutional law. Aside from the additional possible complexities caused by a second Scottish referendum, there will also need to be some considered thinking about the status of Northern Ireland. When civil servants and politicians in these nations are involved in negotiating the main issues, who will they be representing: the UK government or their devolved administrations? If you thought devolution was complicated enough already, prepare for even more caveated and region-specific wonkery.
3 – The divorce settlement. This is the two year process that will begin when Parliament legislate to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The EU’s joint statement on this, as well comments by senior EU figures, suggests that the Commission and the Council will want to get started on this as soon as possible, whereas David Cameron has announced that it will only begin when a new prime minister is known. Boris Johnson has also called for patience. There is a wider context of French and German elections next year; neither electorate is expected to be in favour of giving favourable terms to the UK. Once Article 50 is triggered, the balance of power falls the other 27 EU states – they have to unanimously agree the deal that is presented to Britain. What if they present a settlement that even a Brexit government cannot agree to?
The main issue – as noted on our live blog this morning – is the future of the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, and the 2 million UK citizens living in the EU. This includes many students and recent graduates, as well as higher education staff. Will they require visas? Will there be a moratorium on new entries, or a ‘phasing out’ of free movement? We simply do not know. Note that these negotiations will not be directly about the UK’s ongoing relationship with the single market. That comes after.
4 – The UK’s future settlement with the EU and elsewhere. Only once Britain’s divorce is agreed can negotiations formerly begin on whether the UK continues in the single market, or a customs union, or a new bilateral free-trade agreement, or anything else. Furthermore, all of the UK’s current trade agreements with non-EU countries, including Canada, South Korea and (in the near future) the USA, will be null and void and need to be renegotiated. This could take the best part of a decade and is a massive amount of work. Since Switzerland signed its first agreement with the EEC in the 1970s, it has negotiated well over 100 separate bilateral deals with the EU and is still negotiating more. It is a never-ending process.
Professor Dougan perhaps describes the challenge best:
“The single market is by far and away, and we have no even close competitor, the most advanced trade agreement on the planet. It goes much further, much deeper, than any other form of international trade agreement.
The reason it does so is because it sets out to tackle “the holy grail” of international trade. No one really cares about tariffs, tariffs are easy. You either have taxes or you abolish them, that is easy. The “holy grail” of international trade is how you deal with regulatory barriers.”
Regulation is the bread and butter of wonkery and it will need to be rethought in every single business and public service sector in the UK, including higher education.
So it’s time for wonks to saddle up and get to work. If you’re up for the challenge, send your CVs to BIS and the Foreign Office now – it’s all hands on deck of the good-ship HMS Brexit, making its way through very stormy waters.
On Wonkhe, Martin McQuillan laments the vote for Brexit and argues that the sector needs to prioritise reassuring current students and staff about the future. Going forward, before the technocratic haggling over research funding and student movement, higher education needs to have a long, hard think about it’s political future.
“This defeat will be felt keenly amongst the higher education community, from students to vice chancellors, because it has empowered a tide of political sentiment that is inimical to the values of university life. It will feel as if universities are now on the losing side of a culture war in which the stakes are the cosmopolitan identity of the country, the value afforded to expertise and education, the free movement of people and knowledge, and the prospects of another social and economic future beyond retreat, retrenchment and exclusion.”
Universities in Scotland will now have to deal with the added uncertainty caused by the prospect of a second independence referendum. Nicola Sturgeon said this morning that she will begin proceedings for a new plebiscite, and also expects to be fully involved in the UK’s exit negotiating team. Scottish universities receive over £500 million of EU research funding, nearly half of which goes to the University of Edinburgh. If Scotland were independent it would be the 16th largest recipient of EU research funding, above Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic (all of which have much larger populations than Scotland).
Universities Scotland press release states:
“The electorate has made its choice and we respect its decision. This outcome has a number of significant and direct implications for Scotland’s universities but the most important thing right now is to advise EU staff and students working and studying in our Scottish institutions that nothing changes overnight as a result of this referendum result.
“Higher education is truly global; it transcends borders. Our relationships with Europe, European universities and other institutions remain very important to us and we will work with all Governments and stakeholders to ensure those relationships are preserved under the new arrangements.
“Our priorities are to influence the negotiations for the terms of Scotland, and the UK’s, future relationship with the EU. We want to retain the right for staff and students from EU countries to continue working and studying in Scotland and to negotiate access to European programmes for students, staff and research. We believe this is compatible with the electorate’s decision and would be to the benefit of Scotland and the UK.”
An innovative data dashboard gives us a fascinating insight into how different universities and research institutions are reliant upon EU funding. It’s quite fun to play around with and can be broken down by city, region and nation.
There are more statements emerging from groups representing scientists and researchers, all expressing disappointment at today’s result.
The Royal Society have called for research no to be “short changed” in an exit:
“In the past, UK science has been well supported by EU funding. This has been an essential supplement to UK research funds. In the upcoming negotiations we must make sure that research, which is the bedrock of a sustainable economy, is not short changed, and the Government ensures that the overall funding level of science is maintained.
“One of the great strengths of UK research has always been its international nature, and we need to continue to welcome researchers and students from abroad. Any failure to maintain the free exchange of people and ideas between the UK and the international community including Europe could seriously harm UK science.
“Finally, many global challenges can only be tackled by countries working together and it is easier to work together when policy and regulation are consistent. In negotiating a new relationship with the EU we must ensure that we do not put unnecessary barriers in place that will inhibit collaborations.”
The Academy of Medical Sciences have a similar message:
“This is a very disappointing outcome for medical science. Now that the direction has been set to leave the EU, it is crucial that the government develops clear plans to safeguard the future of science and research in the UK.
“We must ensure the UK retains its globally competitive edge in a post-Brexit world by finding ways to sustain the strong research collaborations we have built with our European partners. The scientific community needs to send a strong message that we are still open for business.”
As we type, Universities UK are holding their Board meeting. The agenda will be dominated on EU questions – but I have one piece of advice to add: All the money, resources, networks and capital built up over decades in Europe needs to be consolidated and massively bolstered. The sector urgently needs a collective lobbying powerhouse based in Brussles that goes far further and runs much deeper than our existing presence there.
Regardless of the UK’s Brexit negotiation, the sector should invest heavily in its own negotiations with European institutions and universities. The research links and flow of EU students are too vital to countenance being lost. And frankly, the sector can’t rely on Boris Johnson or Theresa May to fight its battles. In fact the opposite may be true.
The effort should go wider than UUK as well – every higher education provider should be behind the effort.
‘Public affairs’ in UK HE has for too long been a cottage industry. I worry that we don’t currently have the capacity to do what is needed. It will mean spending a lot more on a professional and well-resourced team of high-flying wonks, negotiators, public affairs pros and economists. And it will be a small price to pay.
The European University Association has released a defiant statement:
As the UK voted to leave the European Union, EUA shares the disappointment over the result with its member UUK and the British university community. EUA is very concerned about the insecurity this causes, notably with regard to the participation of British universities in the EU funding programmes as well as the long-term consequences for European cooperation in research and education.
British universities have demonstrated a clear and common dedication to university values during the campaign leading up to the referendum. They have argued against a closed and prejudiced mindset, pushing for openness, critical thinking, and a debate based on evidence; they have set a brilliant example to the rest of the world of what university values mean.
Regardless of the result of the referendum, British universities are and remain an essential part of the European family of universities, which extends beyond EU borders. This community of knowledge and learning is strong and longstanding, and it will surely overcome this crisis, although the questions and consequences of the British exit are certainly formidable. EUA will continue to work with and for British universities. The Europe of universities will not be divided!
While the world may be watching to see who is first to poke their head above the parapet for leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, and therefore of the for-the-time-being United Kingdom, the world of higher education is also getting back to work and the key question is: what will happen to the Higher Education and Research Bill?
With a lame-duck Prime Minister and a divided cabinet, and a higher education minister for Remain whose brother was a leading-light of Leave, the future of the Bill – and the whole of the current government’s agenda – must surely be in doubt. For the sector this may feel a lot like 2011 all over again. You may remember that the coalition government offered the sector its vision for the future in the White Paper ‘Students at the Heart of the System’ only for it to come to nought. Perhaps higher education is being marched up the hill only to be turned round and marched down again.
There is hardly uniform enthusiasm for the Bill, and we’ve seen recent rallying to kick the research changes into the long grass in addition to the campaign to weaken the Teaching Excellence Framework. But there are also key features of the Bill which the sector is much in need of: some clarity of quango responsibilities would not go amiss; the erosion of the £9,000 fee by inflation is a headache for universities disappointed with the fixed-in-cash-terms amount; removing some of the more arbitrary obstacles facing so called alternative providers.
Best case scenario? There’s continuity of the ministerial responsibilities in BIS and the Bill receives parliamentary scrutiny which shapes it into a better piece of legislation. Worst case? The whole thing is shelved and the sector is faced with with the omnishambles of the short-term Brexit fall-out in addition to the disappearing prospect of overdue legislation for the the advancement of the sector.
With Brexit absorbing the oxygen of political, media and water-cooler debate for the foreseeable future, not least the work of BIS, don’t expect any quick or certain answers on the Bill.
Yesterday, I wrote how universities are at a very real risk of finding themselves on one side of a new class, cultural and geographic divide in Britain. Today’s results appear to have only underlined this:
The list is impressive. Nine out of ten university staff will vote Remain. Every vice chancellor. 83 per cent of UK scientists. 70 per cent of school teachers. 81 per cent of university students. Voters educated to 16 years old oppose EU membership by 57% to 43%, but among graduates, it is 38% to 62%.
Research into the preferences of parliamentary constituencies shows that, outside London, the most pro-Remain constituencies are all significant university seats: Bristol West, Manchester Withington, Manchester Central, Cambridge, Birmingham Ladywood, Sheffield Central, Reading East, Leeds North East, Oxford East, Sheffield Hallam, and Cardiff Central.
This isn’t just a debate where the university sector has a partial opinion from the outside, making contributions about why Brexit would be bad for the finer details of research policy and universities’ business plans. Higher education, or lack of it, is at the heart of what this debate means for our country. Higher education is the core constituency of one of the sides of this divide, and lack of higher education is a central characteristic of the opposing side. Both sides reflect completely different Britains, and the referendum campaign has shown how little they understand each other…
The most overwhelming Leave constituencies are a social milieu that is remote, both literally and figuratively, from higher education: Clacton, Merthyr Tydfil, Boston and Skegness, Easington (County Durham), Barnsley East, Great Yarmouth, Great Grimsby, Walsall North, Stoke-on-Trent North, Rhondda, Blaenau Gwent, Kingston-Upon-Hull East, and Bolsover. Class, education and geography dominate above all else, far more so than the policy debates about the economy and immigration. One-third of BME voters – many only first and second generation immigrants – will be voting to Leave. Many areas outside of London with historic high levels of Commonwealth immigration have surprisingly high numbers of Brexit supporters. This is a divide between Clapham vs. Clacton; the difference in social experience between grad-job-seeking students at the University of Manchester and the estate-dwellers just a few minutes up the road in Collyhurst.
The Russell Group have released their statement on Brexit:
“Leaving the European Union creates significant uncertainty for our leading universities but we will work with the Government to minimise any disruption caused by this decision. Throughout the campaign both sides acknowledged the value of EU funding to our universities and we will be seeking assurances from the Government that this will be replaced and sustained long term.
“The UK has not yet left the EU so it is important that our staff and students from other member countries understand that there will be no immediate impact on their status at our universities. However, we will be seeking assurances from the Government that staff and students currently working and studying at our universities can continue to do so after the UK negotiates leaving the EU.
“The free movement of talent, the networks, collaborations, critical mass of research activity and funding from EU membership have played a crucial part in the success of Russell Group universities. We will be working closely with the Government to secure the best deal for universities from the negotiations to come so that we can continue to form productive collaborations across Europe.”
UCL have released a statement that we anticipate will be similar to several universities’ statements later, reassuring students that tuition fees for EU students in 2016-17 will not be changing:
At this early stage, there is no certainty on how leaving the EU will affect the multiplicity of relationships and activities that UK universities engage in. The timetable for any amendments to current arrangements affecting fees for EU students and research funding is currently unclear.
However, UCL can confirm that it has no plans to change the tuition fees for EU students that have already been published for 2016/17. EU students who are registered at the university in 2016/17 (either as a new or continuing student) will continue to be charged the home rate for tuition fees for all subsequent years of their programme.
Wonkhe understands that BIS are on complete lockdown at the moment, along with all other government departments. No.10 are in charge of all communications and will be issuing instructions to departments today. It is not yet clear whether a plan of action is hiding in a draw somewhere in 1 Victoria Street. We know that there is one in the Cabinet Office at least.
There is a massive question about whether the UK Civil Service has anything near the capacity to deal with a Brexit. Rumours abound of a ‘Brexit Ministry’, combining the necessary staff from the Treasury, Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, Ministry of Justice, BIS, Defra and other ministries, including representatives of the devolved administrations. The service, and particularly BIS, has suffered from substantial cuts and loss of expertise under austerity, and capacity is already stretched.
Almost exactly a year ago, Emran Mian wrote for Wonkhe on what a Brexit might mean for higher education and how the Leave campaign might rebut the sector’s arguments. If it fair to say that his fears were proven correct?
But here’s the trouble: a Brexit advocate can say that, as with labour mobility, student mobility need not reduce to zero if the UK leaves the EU. It’s just that it will be managed differently. For example, EU students will not have access to the same financial support as UK students. And that is all the better. We lose a lot of money by lending money to migrants. We could use some of these student finance savings to provide scholarships to the brightest and the best applicants from other European countries. Can we show why this won’t work? Or even harder, can we prove that UK students have not in any way been crowded out by EU students? Brexit might be a great opportunity for widening participation, if as much as 6% of total student numbers – and the finance associated with them – becomes newly available to UK applicants.
I’ll stop there. My heart is heavy. There is time to construct better arguments. But we had better use it wisely. Or we won’t be helping the case for the UK to stay.
Wonkhe Assistant Director Ant Bagshaw has written why we all need to keep calm, carry on, and recognise the role that universities will play in finding our country’s way out:
This decision does not have to be a “crisis for Britain.” Let’s remember that the colleagues who will be working hard on revising the treaties, on making the trade agreements and on all the other features of our new constitution are pragmatists. They’re wonks. Brexit is a problem to solve. It needs to be solved in a way which supports the UK economy, which provides opportunities across teaching, research, knowledge transfer, public engagement and all the other work of higher education.
The outgoing President of the National Union of Students, Megan Dunn, has written to the Prime Minister, asking that “students and young people will… be thoroughly consulted” in the exit negotiations.
Her statement also says:
“This is clearly not the result that many young people wanted or voted for, but most important now is to ensure that students and young people are involved in the decisions that have to be made that will shape their future. We have urgent questions about how the vote to leave will affect students, particularly EU students in the UK and UK students studying in the EU, and call on the government to offer clear assurances to them about their situation.
“NUS believes 16 and 17-year-olds should have had the right to vote in the EU referendum, as our research showed 76 per cent would have voted if they could. It was a once in a generation vote, but the people who will be most affected were denied the chance to have their say.
“We are now appealing to the older generation to support young people and listen to the voices of students as we move to leave the EU. We must work out how to bring people together and ensure unity in a post-Brexit world.”
There will be considerable anger amongst students and young people who voted overwhelmingly to Remain.
The Academy for Social Sciences and the Campaign for Social Science have released a statement on what the government should prioritise as we navigate the consequences of Brexit.
In light of the UK referendum decision to leave the EU, the Academy of Social Sciences and its Campaign for Social Science believe the Government will need to consider the implications for UK research in its post-referendum negotiations if UK research excellence is to be protected.
Specifically, the UK Government will need to:
Consider the nature and structure of access to European research funding, which will be affected by decisions on whether or not we become an EFTA EEA country, and how we approach freedom of movement. Our longer note discusses differences between some possible models, including the Swiss and Norwegian, for research funding and collaboration. Consideration should be given to the implications of any model for participation, funding, and leadership within the European Research Area and its framework programmes, including Horizon 2020.
Consider making good any shortfall in funding (the UK is a net beneficiary) in order to preserve UK social science excellence if the negotiated terms do not allow UK researchers access to EU funding as an associated country.
Mitigate the impact on the freedom of movement of international social science research talent into UK, to ensure that future immigration policies do not pose unreasonable barriers to entry to UK academic posts and to specialist social science research posts outside academe. The Government will also need to consider whether EU students will continue to have access to UK HEIs on the same terms.
Universities UK have released a likely pre-prepared statement on the vote to Leave the European Union, which signifies a substantial defeat for the organisation’s vigorous campaigning to Remain.
UUK’s board meet later today.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK said:
‘Leaving the EU will create significant challenges for universities. Although this is not an outcome that we wished or campaigned for, we respect the decision of the UK electorate. We should remember that leaving the EU will not happen overnight – there will be a gradual exit process with significant opportunities to seek assurances and influence future policy.
‘Throughout the transition period our focus will be on securing support that allows our universities to continue to be global in their outlook, internationally networked and an attractive destination for talented people from across Europe. These features are central to ensuring that British universities continue to be the best in the world.
‘Our first priority will be to convince the UK Government to takes steps to ensure that staff and students from EU countries can continue to work and study at British universities and to promote the UK as a welcoming destination for the brightest and best minds. They make a powerful contribution to university research and teaching and have a positive impact on the British economy and society. We will also prioritise securing opportunities for our researchers and students to access vital pan-European programmes and build new global networks.
Big decision. Let’s make it work.
— Jo Johnson (@JoJohnsonMP) June 24, 2016
Jo Johnson MP, Universities and Science Minister
#Brexit paints an uncertain picture for Higher Education in the UK: from student fees, to research funding and recruitment.
— Sorana Vieru (@SoranaBanana) June 24, 2016
Sorana Vieru, Vice President (Higher Education), NUS
In weeks ahead we must continue to champion an outward looking, internationalist and tolerant nation. These values matter now more than ever
— Alistair Jarvis (@AlistairJarvis) June 24, 2016
Alistair Jarvis, Deputy Chief-Executive, Universities UK
Momentous EU result for universities which need a period of stability prior to transition and negotiation to leave EU
— Pam Tatlow (@millionplusCEO) June 24, 2016
Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive, million+
The Prime Minister has announced that he wants a new Conservative leader and Prime Minister by the start of the the Conservative Party Conference in October. A leadership contest will thus begin in the next few weeks.
Britain has voted to leave the European Union. It is very likely that our readers, as staff in higher education, voted to remain. For our part at Team Wonkhe, it is still taking some time to settle in. We will be running a live blog today to help you follow news and reaction from across the higher education sector and the wider world of UK politics.
The regional variation in results has been quite striking. As expected, remote and small towns in the north and east of England and the Welsh valleys were overwhelmingly for Leave, whilst the Remain’s strongholds were in inner-London, Scotland, Oxford and Cambridge. We noted yesterday that these divisions reflect a divided Britain, with those areas with low levels of higher education most likely to vote for Leave. That said, several cities with a large higher education presence surprisingly voted for Leave or saw a poorer performance for Remain than expected, including Birmingham, Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield.
As well as the regional variation, the generation variation is even more striking than anticipated. 75% of 18-24 year olds voted to Remain, compared to 39% of over 65s.
The sector will no doubt feel quite bitter this morning; that its expertise and wisdom has been roundly rejected by a Britain that is angry and hungry for change. As we wrote yesterday on Wonkhe, higher education needs to consider its reach and relevance in Brexit-Britain. The culture and tone of our public life may well have changed for good. Experts have an uphill battle to make themselves relevant again. For those confused about why and how this has happened, we strongly recommend John Harris’s ‘Anywhere but Westminster’ report, which included a visit to the University of Manchester.