Bangor University is flying the European Union Flag from the Main Arts building today, 9th May, to celebrate ‘Europe Day’ for the last time before the UK is due to leave the European Union in March 2019.
Europe Day, held on 9th May every year, celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historical ‘Schuman declaration‘. At a speech in Paris in 1950, Robert Schuman, the then French foreign minister, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable.
Ever since structural funds started supporting the Welsh economy to the tune of over £600m per year, Bangor University has been amongst the most successful UK education institutions in attracting monies to North Wales for a whole host of purposes, including projects such as the Menai Science Park on Anglesey, Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre in Bangor, and the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences in Menai Bridge.
Bangor has also benefited from winning research monies under the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme, and leads the flagship Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) project for eight Welsh universities. This project helps students undertake a PhD or Research Masters within organisations and businesses, the majority of which are based in the region. Now in its second phase, KESS has attracted over £70m grant funding to the Welsh higher education sector to date and this round is expected to deliver a total of 645 PhD and Masters projects.
In a statement to mark EU day, Bangor’s Vice Chancellor, Professor John G. Hughes, said: “EU funding has been vital to the university in terms of supporting our collaborative and fundamental research, raising skill levels amongst its students, supporting innovation as well as bringing substantial benefits to our wider community, in both economic and social terms.”
Today, the university leads or is a partner in an exciting portfolio of EU funded projects totalling around £43m, with a further £20m worth of projects in the pipeline extending out to 2022. This funding helps attract additional external funding to the university. For example, the Pontio project attracted an additional £15m of Welsh Government Strategic Capital Investment Funding, as well as significant ongoing support from Arts Council of Wales (ACW), and project-based funding from charitable Trusts such as the Big Lottery.
One exciting facility that has attracted £5m EU funds recently is the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB) which will work with businesses to discover how to create and extract new proteins and enzymes from organisms that thrive in extreme environments – for example, at the ocean floor, or at very high temperatures such as around volcanoes. If commercialised, these may actually help reduce energy use and costs in everyday processes such as household and commercial cleaning, or help break down packaging which is currently non-biodegradable, and so on.
European Regional Development and Social Funds have stimulated Bangor University to work specifically and extensively with Wales’s Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in terms of collaborative research, knowledge transfer and higher level skills development; this is a particular strength of Bangor, which has an excellent track record of working with Welsh business.
Finally, Bangor University is known as an International University for the Region, and we have a proud record of attracting international students to the city, including from the EU. Exchange programmes like Erasmus+ have enabled students to enjoy part of their studies here in North Wales, as well as giving our own people the opportunity to study, work and teach abroad in some of Europe’s most prominent university cities.
The EU Flag flying at Bangor University today (Photo James Goodman)