Carel Stolker in the media: 'Brexit won't hold back science'
'Never underestimate universities as a connecting force.' These were the words of Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker in his address on the Dies Natalis, in reference to the imminent Brexit. A message that struck a chord with the Dutch and international media.
‘In about one-and-a-half months’ time, the UK will be leaving the European Union – much to the sorrow of the UK’s universities, not to mention the universities remaining in the EU. Brexit will have a particularly profound effect on the UK’s universities: fewer students from Europe, fewer researchers and lecturers, and the loss of access to research funds in Brussels. And although the British government has promised our British colleagues that it will make up for the lost European funding, this has not reassured them. Not only do they want to continue working with universities in Ireland and on the European mainland, but they also want to compete with them. This helps them improve, they say.
‘Because science is about both these things: collaboration and competition. Over the centuries, the two have brought science a long way. And it is on these that I am pinning my hopes because although it may sometimes seem as though the world is falling apart, we should never underestimate universities as a vital and connecting force.’
‘If history has taught us anything, it is that out of conflict comes collaboration,’ says Carel Stolker. ‘Why do countries allow their universities and academics to work together when they are in the midst of a blazing row? Primarily because countries need each other to achieve scientific progress. More than ever, the big issues faced by individual countries are common to us all: climate change, migration, infectious diseases, energy, pollution and cyber security. Collaboration then becomes a form of enlightened self-interest.’