UK Universities publish demands for EU citizens’ rights post Brexit

The Russell Group recently published a ten point briefing note setting out the areas that the education sector needs more clarification on over the future rights of European citizens post Brexit. They argue that the government’s proposals as set out in a policy paper published on 26th June, which require EU citizens who already have permanent residence under EU regulations to apply for a new ‘settled status’, should be thrown out. In addition, they state that if such proposals are applied, those with permanent residence should automatically be transferred to the new ‘settled status’. More interestingly, they invite the government to use existing data held in order for the Home Office to contact EU citizens to offer them their status whether it be ‘temporary leave’ or ‘settled status’ under the new proposals.

Jessica Cole, Head of Policy at the Russell Group, said:

“Brexit is causing uncertainty and anxiety for EU staff, who need clarity over their future rights as soon as possible. There are around 25,000 members of staff from other EU countries at Russell Group universities delivering high-quality teaching and cutting-edge research. We value our EU colleagues and want them to stay.”

and want them to stay.” The Russell Group also address the continued support required from the government for EU students and academics who will often spend periods of study aboard for research, training and career development. They suggest this can be achieved by adopting a broad interpretation of ‘strong ties’, so that if students or academics spend more than two years abroad they do not lose their settled status, and also by ensuring that the continuous residence 180 day rule is not impacted by periods of research and study spent abroad.

There is no question that the Russell Group’s paper is indicative of the growing concerns of UK universities over retaining their EU talent post Brexit, and while ministers seek a reciprocal agreement to secure the rights of EU citizens in the UK as quickly as possible, it is not soon enough. The education sector has been proactive and vocal about its commitment to students and staff, yet there is still no reassurance. On the contrary, the EU has described the UK’s offers during negotiations as limiting the rights of EU citizens as compared to their British counterparts.

Encouraging their EU staff to stay in the UK is a high priority for many universities. To enable universities to plan for the future with confidence, an agreement must be sought promptly which requires the government to directly engage with the sector to fully comprehend their concerns and to take action to address what is concisely set out in the Russell Group’s urge for a ‘greater clarity’ in a sector that generates £73 billion a year for the British economy. Whichever approach the government takes and whatever the outcome of negotiations, EU citizens should not be deterred from participation in a world class education system, and the only way this can be accomplished is by providing stability and security in a Britain that has always welcomed the brightest and talented.

Tijen Ahmet

Legal Director, Immigration

The full report can be found at: http://russellgroup.ac.uk/media/5547/rg-position-on-eu-nationals-july-2017.pdf

From → General Interest

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