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The view of this country from the outside has been permanently tainted

Central St Martins College of Art and Design in King’s Cross by Stanton Williams
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We will see fewer students coming to the UK from the EU, says Jeremy Till 

Brexit has unleashed a lot of uncertainties. These arise from the way the leave vote was directed by a mix of personal opportunism and political incompetence. It was apparent before the vote – and is crystal clear after it – that no one had thought through the implications of Brexit or what to do next. It is therefore impossible to say with any real authority what might be the direct effects on higher education. Loans to EU students will probably go, Erasmus exchanges are low on negotiating priorities, and it would be economic and intellectual suicide to withdraw from EU research networks. Overall it is likely fewer EU students will come to the UK and that universities will be financially exposed.

But among all those uncertainties, there is one clear certainty: the view of this country from the outside has been permanently tainted. It is this stain, rather than economic factors, that will do the most damage in terms of EU students coming to the UK. To say that creative production is without borders is to state both a truism and a necessity – and Brexit in its tone and probable realisation closes such production down.

A creative institution such as Central Saint Martins is made vital through openness, diversity and tolerance – all values that were so cynically targeted by the Leave campaign in its promotion of xenophobia and isolation.

The collapse of meaningful public debate in a post-truth political world creates a void. As such, Central Saint Martins and the University of the Arts London will be launching a new project, Creative Unions, to provide a platform for work, discussion and action exploring how art and design can address the gap left by Brexit.

Jeremy Till, head of college, Central Saint Martins

(Photo: Central Saint Martins by Stanton Williams, Image ©Hufton+Crow)

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