Jun 02 2017

This month, Universities UK (UUK) has shared a brief summary of the university-related pledges on Brexit from the main political parties ahead of the General Election. UUK has also published new FAQ and key messages for prospective EU students and there’s been a new report on the role of EU funding in UK research and innovation.

You can find out more about each of these items below, and if you have any questions, please get in touch with our Internal Communications Team.

1)      Universities UK (UUK)’s report on General Election manifestos and UUK’s five priorities for the next government

  • In their latest Brexit-related information update, UUK reported on the General Election manifestos. Set out below is a brief summary of the university-related pledges on Brexit from the main political parties, as defined by UUK:
  • Conservatives – The manifesto makes explicit that the UK would leave the single market and there will be a focus on comprehensive free trade agreements. The document is unsurprisingly light on clear commitments regarding Brexit negotiations, even with little mention of securing rights for EU citizens currently in the UK. It does however repeat two areas which the Prime Minister highlighted in her keynote Brexit speech earlier this year that the UK will continue to collaborate on science and innovation. While there is no mention of specific programmes, she said that “there may be specific European programmes in which we might want to participate and if so, it will be reasonable that we contribute.” There is also a clear commitment to reduce and control the number of EU citizens coming to the UK following Brexit. On structural funds, it states that a Conservative government would “use the structural fund money that comes back to the UK following Brexit to create a United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund, specifically designed to reduce inequalities between communities across our four nations. The money that is spent will help deliver sustainable, inclusive growth based on our modern industrial strategy.”
  • Labour – Labour’s manifesto notes that they would “ensure that the UK maintains our leading research role by seeking to stay part of Horizon 2020 and its successor programmes and by welcoming research staff to the UK.” There would be no drop in EU Structural Funding because of Brexit until the end of the funding round in 2019/20, and would ensure that no region is affected by the withdrawal of EU funding in the next parliament.Britain should remain part of the Erasmus scheme. Labour would scrap the Brexit White Paper and immediately guarantee the rights of EU citizens already in the UK, and seek reciprocal arrangements for UK citizens in other EU countries.The manifesto acknowledges that freedom of movement will end following Brexit and our immigration will change, but says they would prioritise the economy over immigration reduction.
  • Liberal Democrats – The Liberal Democrats would hold a referendum on the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU once these have been negotiated, with the alternative option of remaining in the EU on the ballot paper. They would call for a unilateral guarantee of the rights of EU nationals in the UK, and call for similar commitments for UK citizens abroad. The Liberal Democrats would also call for the overhaul and simplification of process for EU nationals to obtain permanent residency and UK citizenship. They support continued access to Erasmus+ and “other EU-funded schemes which increase opportunities for young people.”They state they would retain access to Horizon 2020 and Marie Sklodowska-Curie funding and say they “will campaign against any reduction in investment in UK universities and for their right to apply for EU funds on equal terms.” They would underwrite funding for British partners in EU-funded projects who would suffer cancellation of income due to Brexit and “Reverse the damage to universities and academics by changing the country’s course away from a hard Brexit.”
    • Securing an effective post-Brexit settlement for universities
    • Supporting universities in their role as anchors for growth in local economies
    • Increasing funding for science, research and innovation to match our competitors
    • Supporting world-leading teaching, student experience and improving outcomes
    • An effective immigration system.

You can read more on the UUK website, including their Brexit policy priorities statement, which was released in February and outlines what UUK identifies as important in supporting universities to thrive post-exit.

In recent months, UUK has been developing policy ideas, opinions and positions on a range of Brexit-related issues, and much of this work builds from the paper published in February. This includes work on a ‘stability package’ of measures for universities should the ‘worst-case’ scenario develop, in which either exit negotiations collapse with no deal being reached on the future of UK-EU relationship, or insufficient progress being reached on the future relationship within the two-year Article 50 timeline.

2)      Universities UK (UUK)’s FAQs and key messages for EU students

  • UUK has produced an updated FAQs and key messages document for Royal Holloway and other members to use in communications with prospective EU students. The document highlights a number of reasons why the UK remains one of the most attractive destinations in the world for international students.
  • The document also provides answers to practical questions about the current and possible implications of the vote to leave the EU.
  • As well as circulating to universities, UUK has shared it with international contacts (embassies, British Council etc.), and relevant organisations in the UK and overseas.

3)      The role of EU funding in UK research and innovation

  • A report entitled, The role of EU funding in UK research and innovation was published this month. It focuses on where EU funding goes, what kind of activities it supports and what other investment it attracts.
  • The report, commissioned from the Technopolis Group by the UK’s four national academies – the Academy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society – includes tables of top 10 HEIs that receive EU funding, the top 10 HEIs for UK government funding (these lists are almost exactly the same) but also a list of HEIs with the highest proportion of their total research funding from the EU.