THE BLOG

Leaving the EU - What Now for the Younger Generation?

28/06/2016 14:25 | Updated 28 June 2016

'I got a feeling I know what many young people are thinking.

Oh bugger.

The younger generation, the majority having voted for REMAIN, have woken up to a new reality: a post EU-world.

We live in a democracy and today is a reminder of how important voting can be for our generation. Turnout matters, we miss out if we fail our basic responsibility.

It's tempting to be bleak about the situation. Certainly on social media, there is a huge sense of disappointed from young people. However, it is best to pick ourselves up, take a deep breath and assess the situation.

In the short term - we haven't immediately jumped off the EU cliff; we are still in it for now and will always have a strong relationship with them. You can still go to Holland with your passport, existing foreign exchange programmes still exist, if you have import/export startup, no trade tariff will suddenly hit you. These issues won't be affected for at least a couple of years, so if you are at university - you still have the opportunities.

However - there are of course ramifications for young people. At a practical level, our flexibility to travel to Europe, EU funding for projects such as science, including fewer research positions for postgraduates in the UK and cross-border programmes like ERASMUS, might all be impacted in the medium term.

These items are up for negotiation. In many ways, that will depend on how Government handles the situation and how our European friends react. Not rushing any negotiation will be key.

However - they are not the only players. As we all go through this transition, the young voice is as important as ever. We must continue to advocate for the best terms for us - that includes great trade deals and collaborations with other institutions across Europe. International students need a fair shake into our education system. They broaden our horizons, bring in talent and our education system won't survive financially without it.

Uncertainty is bad for jobs and investment. However - at its core, the UK, whether in or out, is a world leading nation, with one of the strongest economies in the world, renowned culture and most importantly, with incredibly talented people, home grown and beyond. Opportunities will always come about, especially for us. Our imagination, our sense of justice is now needed more than ever. Entrepreneurs among us have to step and take advantage, create the jobs we need - build collaborations beyond any artificial border and become role models. Heck - at the very least, the reduction in the value of sterling might help exports.

We must fight for an open UK - a country that embraces diversity, ambition at a world stage and not be afraid to call out against lies to stir up fear. As times go by, it will be up to us to become more prominent, not just through protest, but through engagement in politics, to shun the pressure of a 'post-truth era' and who knows - in the future, we might well re-join, or forge another club - led by us.

It is now our responsibility to make the best of the new reality.'

Johnny

CEO,National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs

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