Eleonora Gandolfi (MSc Archaeological Computing, 2010) came to the UK from Italy in 2009 to study here at Southampton. After her degree ended, she stayed on at the University to work, starting her career in the Library and moving on to the International Office, before returning to the Library as a Digital Scholarships Manager, while also studying for a PhD in Digital Humanities.
“I was excited to move to Southampton, because the University was the only place in Europe to run a masters course in Computing Archaeology taught by top academics,” says Eleonora.
“I decided to stay because I had the opportunity to develop as a researcher and as a professional,” she explains.
Since my first degree I have lived in four countries, across three continents, and here, for the first time, I felt truly valued for my interdisciplinary and international background.
“We run amazing top-end research projects at the University, and we are not celebrating enough of them.”
However, she explains that that stability changed after the EU Referendum in 2016.
“I’d always intended to apply for British citizenship as soon as I felt fully settled, but it wasn’t until the referendum that I felt pushed to apply. I’d dedicated five years of my life to the University and suddenly my future felt uncertain.
“I felt rejected after the vote. People like me were defined as ‘citizens of nowhere’ and blamed for the lack of jobs instead of criticism being directed at the government, which failed to create opportunities in the first place. It’s likely there is a part of the country that still appreciates the added value we can bring to the future of the UK.”
Eleonora’s work at the University, and her knowledge about Digital Scholarships, has enabled her to develop her views on the Referendum and how it was carried out. Digital Scholarship, she explains, is essentially the use of digital evidence to achieve research goals and generate new content to share with the wider community. Making data and research results like this more widely available, she believes, could have a huge impact on votes like the EU Referendum.
“It is an exciting way to link research, education and outreach while supporting digital scholarly and pedagogical practice with research projects,” she says.
“I felt some of the arguments in support of the Brexit campaign were based on false statements that were not really challenged. Some of the research we have conducted at Southampton would have provided some statistics and data on immigration, for example.
“Wouldn’t it have been amazing if articles like these were available as open access – so that everyone could have verified the information – and it could have been used in response to some of the Brexit campaign statements?”
In the period of uncertainty which followed the Referendum, Eleonora has taken advantage of the financial support offered by the University, as well as the opportunity to join the EU Network. The government has just confirmed that EU citizens applying to the settlement scheme will be refunded the fee initially requested.
I was pleased to see the University created the EU Network and arranged support for residence permit applications, now called the EU settlement scheme.
“It was something that was missing and a good way to receive updated information, feel supported and exchange experiences within the University community.”
Eleonora’s citizenship was finally approved in February 2018. Although she is now confident of her status in the country, it comes with conflicting feelings:
“I can stay now, but it’s still a rollercoaster. I feel privileged to have the support of my colleagues/friends but I am disappointed with the UK government and the move towards Brexit because of the unknowns surrounding the future of the country and education sector if and when we leave the EU.”
Support for EU/EEA colleagues
Find out about the reimbursement of EU settlement scheme.
Contact Bruno Linclau the Chair of the EU Network for more information.