Aug 31 2017

Over the past month there have been a number of developments following Brexit that you may have read in the media such as, the Office for National Statistics published a report relating to international students and (net) migration.  The Home Office also published exit check data and, at the same time, announced that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been asked to complete a detailed study of the impact of international students in the UK.

Universities UK (UUK) continue to work closely with the Government to address areas of concern for higher education in relation to Brexit. Below you can read about some of the work they have been progressing over the summer.

1) Cabinet Ministers agree on the necessity for a post-Brexit implementation period

  • As a result of pressure from different sectors, including Universities UK, it is believed that cabinet ministers have now agreed that a transition period of anything up to four years is necessary to avoid a ‘cliff-edge’ exit from the EU.
  • UUK has developed a suggested package of ‘stability’ measures that it is asking the government to implement in order to provide greater certainty for universities. These measures were agreed at the most recent UUK board.
  • Royal Holloway contributed to UUK’s position by identifying that the recruitment process can begin up to three years in advance of a young person making a decision about which institution to attend. Therefore deadlines for implementation need to take account of a lead time of this magnitude.
  • UUK continue to make it clear that current EU migration rules for university students and staff should remain in place throughout any wider implementation period.

2) Erasmus+ guarantee for staff and student mobility in Europe

  • UUK is aware that the Treasury’s guarantee to underwrite Erasmus+ grant agreements signed while the UK is still in the EU will most likely only cover mobility to the end of 2018/19.
  • This has implications for students starting their first year at Royal Holloway in September 2017 on a programme with a mandatory year abroad to be taken in or after 2019/20.
  • UUK has been working closely with the Department for Education, HM Treasury and the Department for Exiting the EU as well as with the UK National Agency to work on strengthening the current guarantee to ensure clarity and stability for students.
  • In the longer term, UUK is asking the government to secure continued UK participation in this valuable exchange programme post-Brexit.

3) New clarification from the Government on the Horizon 2020 underwrite

  • On Tuesday 18 July, Jo Johnson, the Minister for Universities and Science provided further clarification on the Treasury Underwrite of Horizon 2020 funding.
  • Johnson confirmed that all research applications submitted before the UK leaves the EU will be covered, even if the applications have not yet been approved for funding, or where there has not yet been a signed grant agreement.
  • Research applications that are subject to a multi-stage review process will also be covered, if they are successful.
  • Although these clarifications recognise that research applications at different stages of the process will be affected differently, no new information has been provided about how the guarantee will be administered.
  • UUK is continuing to work with the Government on this and securing full access (through the exit negotiations) to Horizon 2020 for UK researchers up to the end of the programme in 2020.

4) EU citizens’ rights

  • At the end of June, the Government published Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK and UK Nationals Living in the EU, proposing its offer to EU citizens already in the UK.
  • Within this document the Government has proposed that EU citizens in the UK who have already applied successfully for permanent residence, will need to apply for settled status. This is an area that UUK has flagged as a concern to the Home Secretary, the Home Office and the Department of Education.
  • Since this release, and following further negotiations between the EU and UK, the Government published a technical note comparing the UK and EU’s separate positions on citizens’ rights, highlighting where there are currently significant disagreements. These disagreements are being analysed by UUK ,  while briefing key officials as the negotiations progress.
  • As the negotiations between the EU and the UK continue, UUK is continuing to gather wider evidence to inform these discussions including evidence on researcher mobility.