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Guarantees needed on higher education as Brexit looms, warns report

House of Commons Education Select Committee report on the effects of Brexit on higher education says government must guarantee rights of EU university staff and students.
Protect_rights

Government must guarantee the rights of European Union (EU) university staff after Brexit, according to a cross-party committee.

The House of Commons Education Select Committee report on Brexits effect on higher education states that British universities rank among the best and produce highly-regarded research.

But the report adds that Brexit has created significant uncertainty about links between British universities and those on the continent, and could put the long-term success of UK higher education at risk.

The reports authors write: Uncertainty over EU students and EU staff needs to be reduced immediately. Guaranteeing that the 2018-19 student cohort will have the same fees and tuition loan access will create short-term stability.

For staff, the issue of residency rights require speedy

Government must guarantee the rights of European Union (EU) university staff after Brexit, according to a cross-party committee.

Protect_rights
Picture: iStock

The House of Commons Education Select Committee report on Brexit’s effect on higher education states that British universities rank among the best and produce highly-regarded research.

But the report adds that Brexit has created ‘significant uncertainty’ about links between British universities and those on the continent, and could put the long-term success of UK higher education at risk.

The report’s authors write: ‘Uncertainty over EU students and EU staff needs to be reduced immediately. Guaranteeing that the 2018-19 student cohort will have the same fees and tuition loan access will create short-term stability.

‘For staff, the issue of residency rights require speedy resolution. The government should react to any delay in reaching a reciprocal agreement by unilaterally guaranteeing rights before the end of 2017.’

Research funding

The report also emphasises that research collaboration with Europe is ‘essential’.

The Council of Deans of Health (CoDoH), which represents UK universities offering nursing and midwifery courses, said funding is an important component of the healthcare higher education sector.

CoDoH executive director Katerina Kolyva said: ‘We encourage the government to consider initiatives to support the future sustainability of research funding, as well as continued international collaboration that adds value to academics and students.’

Universities UK deputy chief executive Alistair Jarvis said that, as Brexit negotiations begin, the education committee is right to identify EU staff, immigration policy and research collaboration as priorities for universities.

He said: ‘The government should seek to secure continued close collaboration with EU research partners, and provide certainty for EU staff currently working in UK universities in terms of work and residency rights.

‘Changes to our immigration system are also needed to ensure that the UK remains a destination of choice for interna​tional talent and students.’

Damage risk

Meanwhile, University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Sally Hunt said she hopes the government will ensure the sector is not damaged by Brexit.

‘Along with international students, overseas staff make a huge contribution to UK society, and I call on the government to end their uncertainty or risk damaging the UK’s ability to attract staff and students from around the world.’

The select committee’s report highlights a recent Comres survey for UCU in which just over three-quarters (76%) of EU academics at UK universities said that Brexit has made them more likely to consider leaving UK higher education.


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