THE University of Aberdeen has moved to start flying the EU flag for the rest of the month while MPs discuss the future of Brexit.

While the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29 with or without a deal, it is widely thought that some sort of delay will be sought as Parliament gets to grips with the terms of Brexit.

Nevertheless, with the official D-Day over Brexit just ten days away, university executives have made a move to fly the Flag of Europe over campus "as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with our European students and staff while the UK Parliament debates the next steps for Brexit".

The decision has sparked a heated debate on the university's social media channels over the merits of its action, with some students complaining the university has stepped out of line by making what some consider was a "political gesture".

The University of Aberdeen has said the move was "not a political statement".

Oliver Pike responded to the university move by saying: "The EU flag represents the EU not European students. This is a stunt against Brexit not solidarity with EU students and staff. The university should be encouraging debate and remain neutral on this issue rather than make these empty political gestures.

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"I wonder if this has anything to do with the funding the university receives from the EU?"

Stewart McGregor told the university on its social media channel: "What about solidarity with those British citizens whose democratically approved wishes remain unfulfilled?"

And Andrew Diack added: "Surely a British university should be supporting Britain rather than our historical competitors who are trying to take our freedom (to paraphrase a certain someone)?!"

However the vast majority of responses were supportive of the university's move, with some believing other educational establishments should follow suit.

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Scott Styles, a senior lecturer at the university's School of Law said: "I’m so proud of Aberdeen University doing this! It’s a small gesture but gestures matter. I hope every other University in UK will likewise fly the blue flag with the golden stars above their campus."

Jac Himilsbac, a Polish European Studies degree alumini said: "The EU is the best thing which has ever happened to Europe and some people in the UK either never experienced that or cannot see beyond the place they live in. The EU is what makes Europe so competitive... outside the single market the waters are full of sharks, it's much better to be one in my humble opinion."

Italian Giulia Karanxha added: " Honestly, I'm European and got an offer from a Scottish Uni where I'd love to go but this Brexit is giving me nausea. I mean, they're supposed to go out in two weeks but no one has idea what's going on. What should I do? Moving to another country (meaning: find a job, using all my savings to move etc) when I have no idea about what will happen? It's really annoying, trust me."

And David Donaldson remarked: " As an Aberdeen university student, l had a fantastic opportunity to study in Germany for a year. I really hope future students have a similar opportunity."

The university has shared concerns over the loss of research funding as a result of Britain's departure from the EU.

Universities Scotland and Universities UK have warned that potentially life-changing Scottish research is on the verge of stalling amidst Brexit uncertainty.  They are concerned the sector could lose out on hundreds of millions of pounds in research grants if the result is a no-deal.

Academics will find out whether they have been awarded funding from the latest round of European Research Council’s advanced grants by April 8, but the UK government has not explained how it will ensure that successful applications will be funded going forward.


Professor George Boyne , principal and vice chancellor of the university has made no secret of his concerns that the UK's decision to leave the European Union has created an "unsettling and uncertain time" for staff, students, prospective students and alumni.

In a statement on Brexit he said: "We attract thousands of European students to Aberdeen each year, and as an international university that has educated people around the world for centuries, I am committed to ensuring we continue to do so.

"A global outlook has always been key to our evolution and I’m particularly proud of the wonderful growth in the number of European students and staff who play a pivotal role in the University’s success. Although this is one of our greatest achievements, it is also one of our biggest challenges as we await the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

"I would also like to reassure our Aberdeen alumni that we are identifying the best ways to maintain and strengthen the links we have with our diverse community of alumni in Europe and around the world.

"Since the University was first founded in 1495, our purpose has been to remain ‘open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others.’ Despite the challenges that lie ahead, I am confident that our degrees will continue to be recognised and valued throughout Europe and the wider world, as we further strengthen the global reputation of the University of Aberdeen.

In response to the debate, a university spokesman said: "The University looked out to Europe for its inspiration when it was founded in 1495 and today around a quarter of our undergraduate students and academics come from the European Union.

"We have a proportionally higher undergraduate population of EU students than any other university in the UK. That’s why we are committed to maintaining strong ties with Europe and we fly the European flag in recognition of this.”