Call for rethink on immigration plans

11 October 2019

The Russell Group called on the Government to rethink its plans for a 36-month visa for EU nationals in the event of a No Deal Brexit to ensure EU students enrolling on courses expected to last longer than three years can complete their studies.

Russell Group analysis of HESA data, published in today’s i newspaper, shows that of 62,270 EU students that started courses at UK universities in 2017/18, 14,785 were on courses expected to last longer than three years – almost a quarter (24%) of all EU students coming to study here. 

For EU students starting undergraduate courses in the UK in 2017/18 (34,625) the proportion on courses expected to last more than three years rises to 37% (12,820).

The 36-month visa plan will be especially difficult for Scotland, where most undergraduate degrees are four years. Of the 4,695 EU students starting undergraduate courses in Scotland in 2017/18, 80% (3,745) did so on courses expected to last more than three years.

Commenting, Russell Group Chief Executive Dr Tim Bradshaw said:

‘’Plans for a No Deal 36-month visa for EU nationals would be a major own goal for the UK, making it much harder for universities to recruit talented EU students, many of whom come here for courses lasting longer than three years. This includes courses in maths, engineering, computer science and other high priority subjects for our economy. 

“The impact on Scottish universities will be particularly damaging as almost all of their undergraduate degrees last four years or longer.

“The Government has recently taken some positive steps to boost the UK’s appealto global talent, including promising new opportunities for international students to stay and work in the UK after their studies. But their No Deal immigration plans risk undermining this welcome change of direction and need a serious rethink.

“Ministers have publicly acknowledged that the proposed visa is problematic. We urgently need a solution that will provide certainty for future EU students, many of whom are right now deciding where to apply for next year.”

Details of the Government’s immigration plans in the event of a No Deal Brexit can be found here

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