BREXIT – Advice received from Universities UK following the vote to leave the European Union
Barring unilateral action from the UK Government, members are advised that the vote to leave the European Union (EU) does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+, nor to the immigration status of current and prospective EU students and staff.
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty foresees a two-year negotiation process between the UK and other Member States, during which time the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union will be decided.
A vote to leave the EU clearly poses significant challenges for UK universities, creates uncertainty and leaves many unanswered questions. There will be many important questions that require urgent answers – from universities, staff, students, prospective students, research partners and other stakeholders – that may be impossible to answer for some time. We should remember that leaving the EU will not happen overnight – there will be a gradual exit process with significant opportunities for Universities UK to seek assurances and influence future policy
Universities UK will seek urgent clarification on key cross-sector questions from Government, the European Commission and other relevant agencies. However it is likely that it will take time for some of the more difficult questions to be answered, particularly those that require high level political decision making and those that are dependent on the exit negotiations or negotiations of any new (non-member) arrangement between the UK and EU. We have already flagged an initial set of issues with No.10 and BIS and we are meeting with the Universities Minister today. Universities Scotland and Universities Wales are in contact with Scottish and Welsh Governments and will seek clarification from them on devolved matters.
We will keep in regular contact with members to share new information and highlight next steps as they become clear.
Until the point we are able to receive further clarity on key specific issues, institutions may also wish to consider communications to the following audiences:
- EU staff: to clarify that their immigration status has not changed as a result of the vote. This will remain the case until the Government decides otherwise.
- Current EU students: to clarify that their immigration status and associated fee status, as well as their access to the student loan book, have not changed as a result of the vote. This will remain the case until the Government decides otherwise.
- EU students with a place to start in academic year 2016/17 and 2017/18 to clarify that at this stage there is no reason to assume any change to their immigration status or access to student loan book.
UUK is liaising with the Home Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and institutions are advised to check both websites regularly for updates from the UK Government. Given the differing arrangements in the devolved nations, Universities Scotland and Universities Wales will seek clarification in terms of tuition fee grant and/or access to loans from the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
- EU students studying in the UK under the Erasmus programme: to clarify that their immigration status has not changed, and that they continue to be eligible for their Erasmus grant until at least as long as we remain a member of the EU and could well be extended beyond this.
- UK students studying in the EU and elsewhere under the Erasmus programme: to clarify that their immigration status has not changed, and that they continue to be eligible for their Erasmus grant until at least as long as we remain a member of the EU and could well be extended beyond this.
UUK is liaising with the British Council as National Agency for Erasmus+ and institutions are advised to check the Erasmus+ websites regularly for updates including student-focused communications.
- All staff currently undertaking EU funded projects: to clarify that the UK’s status as a full participating member of the Horizon 2020 programme has not changed as a result of the referendum vote and that existing project grants and contracts will be honoured unless or until advised otherwise.
UUK is liaising with the UK Research Office and the European Commission and institutions are advised that detailed advice on prospective and currently negotiated projects will be circulated as soon as is possible
24 June 2016