EUROPE: Think of next generation

As a retired academic, I have become increasingly concerned about the various sound bites we are subjected to from politicians from 'Brexit' trying to influence the way we vote.

Friday, 25th March 2016, 10:30 am

They seem to draw on the past without real evidence, just assumptions.

However, the catchphrases they use become repeated in a simplistic, subliminal message to those who fear aspects of mobility and border control.

In my working life at Surrey University I directed a consortium called EUROmove, which worked with partners from universities in Helsinki, Copenhagen, Oldenburg and Limerick to provide the “mobility of people and ideas – in order to increase understanding across the EU”.

Initially, we provided mobility for teachers from Germany (in maths, science and languages) to teach in our schools, where we had major shortages.

In return, we were able to place redundant executives from the UK into businesses in other European countries.

We created our work as an education business partnership so that as we developed projects across Europe to the benefit of all members, education and business opportunities were created for mutual advantage.

As the EU expanded, we added members from Jelgava (Latvia) and Bourgas (Bulgaria). The latter member was one of the first free universities in Bulgaria, which we helped to found in former party headquarters.

Our partnership won project monies from the European Union (several million Euros) for cross country opportunities in education and business.

We provided opportunities for student mobility on the Erasmus programme, business development and school partnerships.

Indeed, we also won support from the World Bank for educational opportunities with Bulgaria.

What of the outcomes?

EU support provided student mobility for training in different universities across member states, including the UK, so that ideas and understanding of each other were developed.

Schools, through the Comenius programme, helped young people and staff to understand the range of European cultures, languages and values.

European accreditation enabled students from all countries to be trained to work, or continue their education across member states.

An example might be a Bulgarian student brought to Surrey through these programmes, financing himself by working through his university career, accepting nothing from the UK, and now, after gaining his PhD, being a foremost scientist in satellite communication, working for the UK and writing software for secure critical messaging communications for our emergency services.

His story is one of many where opportunities have been given to young people to be mobile across the EU to gain new ideas and understanding of our European neighbours.

Let us also not forget the major projects that the European Commission has funded in the UK within the scientific and medical community, from which we all benefit.

The most recent, announced last week, being support for Newcastle Hospitals for research into child disability from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, one of many EU contributions supporting research in this country.

So where should our vote be?

We live in a global village.

During our lifetime there has been much change in technical development, but also now a real difficulty in human relations, leading to the sound bites we now hear from Brexit.

The flow of movement, ideas and understanding for our future generations, which has enabled peace and friendships to be established, must not be lost in a one-off vote based on prejudice, or a wish to return to the past.

My challenge to parents and grandparents is this. Consider your children and grandchildren.

Look at the benefits that those who cannot vote for the future will lose if we leave the EU.

It is their opportunity, not ours, for which we must be responsible. We have had our time.

Ask them, the Government has not.

Listen to what they say, and use your vote for the next generation so that their future opportunities for education and training, sharing ideas, making friends and maintaining peace is not in jeopardy.

John Hobrough,