AN MP has said she will be fighting to ensure Durham can still attract European students to the city following the start of Brexit negotiations.

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said she wanted to make sure Durham University will still be able to compete internationally when Britain leaves the European Union.

She said: “Of course it has to be able to attract international students, including EU students.

Loading article content

“Universities are global institutions and they need to attract the best staff from across the globe.

“There are a whole range of issues and the university is really important to Durham’s economy.”

Article 50 was triggered on Wednesday, when Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to the European Council president Donald Tusk, signalling the start of a two-year negotiating process.

Meanwhile Durham University has set up a steering group to consider what the implications might be.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge said: “At Durham University we will continue to lobby through Universities UK and the Russell Group for the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK and for continuing access to EU research funding.

“We will also continue to make the case for immigration and work regimes which properly value and facilitate the contributions of international staff and students.

“We are also supporting our staff and students through this period of negotiation. Durham University is immensely proud of the contributions of all of our staff members and students who come from diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds. We flourish because we are an inclusive and outward looking community.”

Dr Blackman-Woods also highlighted the need to ensure the future for manufacturing companies and farmers in the county, many of whom rely on European subsidies.

She said: "Companies like Nissan and Hitachi need tariff free access to the market if they are going to grow and compete and we have got to try and ensure that happens. That process goes for all the manufacturing in the region - there are lots of smaller manufacturing companies in Durham that will need tariff free access."

She added: “The process has started now and I know a lot of people in Durham voted remain but my view is my job is to get the best possible deal out of Brexit negotiations and keep challenging the Government to deliver that."