Jeremy Till

Brexit and creative education

Brexit has unleashed a lot of uncertainties onto higher education - in this we are no different from anyone else – but also one certainty. The uncertainties 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 now 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 less 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 county 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 their promotion of xenophobia and isolation.

The collapse of meaningful public debate in a post-truth political world creates a void. CSM and University of the Arts London will therefore be launching a new project, ‘Creative Unions’, in order to provide a platform for work, discussion and action that explores how art and design can address the gap left by the Brexit.