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VC tells German students that Britain is still open for business after Brexit

The Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has made some of his strongest statements yet in his campaign to ensure thousands of people wanting to study in the UK are made aware that DMU, Leicester and the UK are still open for business following the vote to leave the EU in June.

Professor Dominic Shellard was speaking to an audience in the German capital of Berlin as part of a Europe-wide campaign to reassure EU students that they are still welcome at DMU and other British universities.

Professor Shellard's #LoveInternational initiative was launched just after Britain voted by a narrow margin to leave the EU.

Since then the vice-chancellor and his team have visited Cyprus, Lithuania, Sweden, Poland and India to reassure international students, while promoting DMU and the city of Leicester as a rewarding place to study and live.

In Berlin, Professor Shellard was joined by DMU governor and former British ambassador to Brazil Alan Charlton, who spent some of his working life as a diplomat in Berlin, as well as Lucy Shackleton, Head of European Engagement at UniversitiesUK. 

#LoveInternational has the backing of the Britain is Great campaign, a Government initiative promoting the UK to the world and which appointed DMU as its sole representative for higher education. Members of the British Consulate were also present at the event.

Professor Shellard, who spent a year living and working in Berlin in 1987/88 while a student, said: "I want you to know that in 1975 Britain voted to join the EU, with 67 per cent in favour. But it did not stop the Euro sceptics complaining about this decision for 41 years

"41 years after that, on 23 June 2016, 51 per cent of the British public (17 million) voted to leave the EU while 48.1 per cent (more than 16 million) voted to remain. This debate is not over. 

"Those of us who believe that education is about dismantling barriers not erecting them are not going to suddenly accept that separating ourselves from Europe is either a sensible or necessary policy.

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"Universities in the UK now have an absolutely vital role to promote diversity, inclusion and international commitment. We must not recoil into an insular mentality and cut ourselves off from everyone else.

"What I have come to say to you all today is that, despite the uncertainty, one thing has not changed and that is the quality of UK higher education.

"As an undergraduate or post graduate you are still going to get one of the finest educations anywhere in the world."

Professor Shellard also presented a slide show promoting DMU's academic excellence as well as the new campus developments and student experiences such as #DMUglobal and DMU India.  There was also time dedicated to our partnership with Premier League champions Leicester City and the city itself as a vibrant, tolerant place to live.

DMU Governor Alan Charlton, who was introduced as one of Britain's most distinguished diplomats, told the audience: "DMU is one of the great international universities which is so vibrant and offers so much to so many. I am very proud to be associated with it.

"I am delighted that, under the leadership of Dominic, DMU is making these efforts around Europe and putting out such a positive message.

"The true test of what is happening here is that after Brexit DMU will continue to have strong links with the rest of Europe and will be all the better for it.

"We are proud of Europe at DMU and if German students are wondering why they should  come to Leicester it is because they will visit a neighbouring country - a European country - which cares about its links with the rest of the world."

Guests also heard from DMU students who have been in Berlin since Sunday working on projects with refugees organised by #DMUglobal. They have packaged up clothes, worked in a Refugee Cafe and taken an alternative refugee's tour of the city of Berlin.

Piyush Goraniya, who is studying his third year in Law, and Amber Leach, who is studying a Master's in Law, discussed the project and said how rewarding it had been.

Sarah Setchell, DMU's Director of People and Organisational Development, then hosted a Q&A session with two Europeans who work and study at DMU - Alex Erdlenbruch, who works as a executive officer, and Annabell Gast, who is a PhD student and part-time lecturer from Germany.

Annabell said: "What I love about DMU is spending time with people from different cultures. I have learned so much from the experience and it is one of DMU's strongest assets. 

"When the Brexit vote happened I was shocked but it was so nice to be at a university which has been doing all it can to support you and wants you to stay. I felt so welcome and Leicester has become my home."

Posted on Friday 2nd September 2016

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