On 27th February 2017, Labour Peer Baroness Quin moved an amendment to the Government’s EU (Notification of Withdrawl) Bill, requiring Government to undertake an impact assessment of the impact of Brexit on the North-East of England. The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, spoke to the amendment to highlight the contribution of Newcastle University to the North-East economy. The amendment was later withdrawn after debate.
Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the court of Newcastle University. The amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, and the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, asks for an impact assessment of the effect of Brexit on the economy of the north-east. When we think about that economy, perhaps our thoughts turn first to the EU funding that the economy receives and then to the manufacturing sector. But the city of Newcastle is deeply enriched by the presence of two first-class universities, and there are 50,000 students in Newcastle. Tomorrow a report will be released to the media which details the extraordinary contribution of Newcastle University to the economy of the north-east.
The university adds £1.1 billion to the economy overall. Newcastle University alone, not including all the other universities in the north-east, is the fourth-largest employer in the region and accounts for 6% of all jobs in Newcastle. In addition, research grants totalling £105 million have helped to support major investment in research projects ranging from research into ageing to subsea and offshore engineering on the banks of the Tyne. I hope that the Minister can reassure us that the Government will assess the impact of Brexit on our universities, and in particular on our universities in the regions, which clearly are major players in our economic flourishing. If universities are undermined by not being able to attract students from this country, Europe and beyond with limitations on immigration and if they are not able, as Newcastle University does at the moment, to go for staff who are at the top of their field and not see nationality as a limiting factor, as well as being able to attract the EU funding referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, it will have an impact on them as world-class institutions and on their contribution to the economy of a place such as the north-east.
Newcastle University, like other universities, is a major player, so I hope that the impact assessment will value the economic significance of universities and the contribution that they make to our economy, as demonstrated by the report to be published tomorrow on Newcastle and the north-east.