Top British research universities call for clarity on Brexit

by Ray Clancy on August 8, 2017

Universities in Britain could lose talented academic teaching staff because there is still no clarity about the rights of EU citizens after Brexit, according to a new report.

The Russell Group, which is made up of 24 of top research universities in the UK, including Oxford and Cambridge, says that the lack of progress in talks is causing anxiety and uncertainty and they don’t want staff to leave

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The report points out that the contribution of EU nationals to research and teaching at the universities is crucial and more broadly, EU staff and students add to the diversity of campuses and enrich the learning experience for everyone.

There are around 25,000 members of staff from other EU countries at Russell Group universities, delivering working on high quality teaching and cutting edge research.

‘Brexit is causing uncertainty and anxiety for EU staff, who need clarity over their future rights as soon as possible. We value our EU colleagues and want them to stay,’ said Russell Group head of policy Jessica Cole.

‘EU staff, students and universities need to be able to plan for the future with confidence. We urge the Government to secure an agreement with the EU on citizens’ rights at the earliest possibility,’ she added.

The report calls for EU nationals who already have permanent residence to be transferred automatically to settled status and argues that there is no need to reassess these individuals’ right to be in the UK, as suggested by Prime Minister Theresa May.

It also calls for EU students and academics who spend two years or more abroad not to lose their settled status after Brexit and for assurances that students starting courses this year and next can stay and work in the UK after finishing their courses and be eligible for settled status after five years.

The report points out that Brexit does not just affect university staff, but also their families who have come to live in Britain. It wants to see an efficient system for processing applications which places minimum burden on applicants and clarity on the rights of families to stay together.

What happens after Brexit is also important. The Russell Group says there needs to be cross border recognition of qualifications from both British and EU educational establishments.

‘We have been clear about our commitment to the UK’s world class higher education sector. The Government wants to reach a reciprocal agreement for EU citizens in Britain and UK nationals in Europe as quickly as possible,’ said a Government spokesman.

‘We recognise that there are a wide range of individual circumstances to consider and we will continue to engage with the sector as this work develops,’ he added.

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