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‘Welcome to the UK’s ex-European university’ - Graffiti vandals target sign on Canterbury campus

PUBLISHED: 17:01 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:25 06 November 2017

Vandalised sign outside the University of Kent. Photo: InQuire Media

Vandalised sign outside the University of Kent. Photo: InQuire Media

Archant

The change was spotted by students in the city on Monday

Graffiti vandals have targeted a sign on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus in an apparent Brexit-related statement.

Describing itself as “the UK’s European university”, the institution claims on its website that it is “ideally positioned to serve as a European gateway to the wider world”, with study centres across the continent and strong European links in teaching and research.

It also highlights the high percentage of European students and staff it attracts, to create an atmosphere of cultural exchange, with some 11 per cent of students coming from the European Union.

However, students had spotted on Monday morning that the sign had been altered to read: “Welcome to the UK’s ex-European university”.

Student newspaper, InQuire, said the graffiti was “clearly making a statement regarding the Brexit vote, and asking questions surrounding the university’s status in Europe”.

The Canterbury district narrowly voted to leave in last year’s referendum, but the student population in the city is, generally, regarded as a strong pro-EU voice.

Discussing the impact of Brexit on her consituency, Labour MP Rosie Duffield told us: “Potentially, for Canterbury, it’s catastrophic.

“We’re so close to Europe, we’re so dependent on tourism and language schools and our university is proud to call itself the European university.

“These are our neighbours and I don’t want us to be seen to be rejecting them.

“I know lots of people voted to leave, and they’re entitled to, but I can’t feel comfortable as Canterbury’s MP if I don’t support keeping those close ties. It’s essential.”

The graffiti is the latest of a number of political statements made on key landmarks around the county over the last 12 months.

Street artist Banksy claimed responsibility for a mural that appeared in Dover in May, depicting a workman on a ladder chipping away at one of the 12 stars on the EU flag.

Weeks later, bookmaker Paddy Power erected a huge structure of prime minister Theresa May atop the port town’s famous White Cliffs, appearing to make a rude gesture directed across the Channel, towards Europe.

A spokesperson for the University of Kent said: “The university has now removed this piece of graffiti from its sign.

“Graffiti at its Canterbury campus is very rare but when it does occur it is removed as a matter of urgency.”

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