I am writing this message on Thursday 30 January, a day that sits between two important events.
Wednesday 29 January, saw the Royal Holloway Symphony Orchestra, Royal Holloway Choir and the Royal Holloway Chorus, joined by the London Mozart Players, give an outstanding musical performance at Royal Holloway’s London Concert at St. John’s, Smith Square in Westminster. The concert commemorated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven and included performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony which includes the well-known ‘Ode to Joy’ that forms the basis of the ‘Anthem of Europe’. In a full house, I was extremely proud of the great talent demonstrated by our students: from performance to behind-the-scenes organisation.
As we approached Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union on Friday 31 January, it was a poignant moment to reflect upon the huge strength and diversity that European staff and students have brought to our academic community and how much we have in common.
I, like perhaps many of our students and staff, believed we should remain within the European Union; but I recognise that others did not and that many citizens around the country supported withdrawal. And so, as we move into a new stage of our relationship with Europe, I wanted to reflect upon our College’s role.
Most importantly, we remain an open and welcoming institution that is strengthened by our diversity, the talent it brings and the creativity it fosters. I will continue to strive to ensure that we attract the very best staff and recruit students who can most benefit from one of our courses, irrespective of background, nationality, gender, race, sexuality, beliefs and many other characteristics. Also, for each one of us to respect and honour that diversity.
There will, no doubt, be challenges as relationships, funding mechanisms and paths of mobility between the UK and Europe change. In a recent visit by the universities minister, I stressed the importance for the uncertainty that surrounds these issues to be reduced so that we can plan positively for the future and make the contribution that our society and economy needs in its new relationship with Europe and the world. Some of the initial signs have been positive and welcome, such as the movement on visas, but there is much more to do.
In the coming months, I hope we share common purpose in ensuring that we thrive and each of us is inspired to succeed: our students, our staff, our communities and our nations.
Principal Paul Layzell