Welsh universities 'to come out other side' after Brexit

Cubric Image copyright Cardiff University
Image caption Cardiff University's new brain research imaging centre received European funding

Leaving the EU is a "major setback" for Welsh universities, a university boss has said, but he believes they would "come out the other side".

Universities wanted to remain claiming funding for research and collaboration with other European academics brought huge benefits.

Cardiff's Vice Chancellor Colin Riordan said the referendum signalled "a period of uncertainty and disruption".

The Welsh Government said it would try to protect the higher education sector.

Cardiff University is one of the UK's leading institutions for research - ranked fifth in an assessment two years ago.

It has attracted millions of pounds of funding from the European Union including £4.5m towards the new Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre.

'More certainty'

Prof Riordan warned there is a threat to the research capacity of universities, but applications for grants and collaboration with other EU researchers had to continue.

"Until there's much much more certainty - which will be not months but years - we need to continue as we planned and continue to work closely with our European partners," he said.

"We will get through this, but it's not what we would have wanted."

Last year there were 5,425 students from the EU studying at Welsh universities.

The Welsh Government has said current EU students and those applying to study in Wales this year would be eligible for the same financial support.

A spokesman said: "Ministers will use every lever at their disposal to ensure Welsh jobs and communities, including the higher education sector, are protected as much as possible through what may be difficult times ahead, and to work together to get the best deal for Wales.

Before the referendum, Leave campaigners pledged to maintain funding levels for research and argued that European and global research collaboration could continue and be enhanced outside the EU.

Conservative education spokesman Darren Millar AM said a far greater worry was the unsustainability of the Welsh Government's tuition fee policy.

He added: "Our universities should take courage from the fact that they are full to the brim with some of the world's brightest minds and innovators who will be integral to safeguarding their economic futures."

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