Response to Science & Technology committee - leaving the EU

08 September 2016

The UK has not yet left the EU and our universities are just as open and welcoming to students, staff and ideas as we were before the EU referendum. Nevertheless, the referendum result will have a significant impact on our universities, which have long thrived on global collaboration and international interaction – be it through European staff and students coming to our universities, or when our best researchers work with colleagues across Europe to tackle big social and scientific challenges.

As anchors for growth in their regions, Russell Group universities contribute over £32 billion a year to the UK economy and the benefits from our engagement with the EU have been a significant contributing factor in this success. A positive outcome for UK science, research and innovation in the upcoming negotiations with the EU will enable our leading universities to continue to attract, retain and recruit talented students and staff from Europe and across the globe and to collaborate easily and effectively with international partners.

We welcomed the early reassurances from the Government, in particular the recent announcement to underwrite the payments of Horizon 2020 grants. But significant uncertainty remains over the UK’s future relationship with the EU and this is in itself concerning. The Government should provide clarifications as soon possible on:

  • The status of EU students starting in 2017/18 and their ability to access student loans and grants for the duration of their courses
  • The continued working rights for EU staff and dependants currently at UK universities (both academic and non-academic) and those who take up positions during the transition period before the UK leaves the EU
  • The arrangements for structural fund projects after the Autumn Statement, following consultation with universities.

The Government can further reassure the higher education and research community by providing a strong statement of intent that they will prioritise HE and research in the upcoming negotiations, with a particular focus on:

  • Continued mobility of students, academics and university staff between the EU and the UK without bureaucratic visa burdens
  • Continued full access to and influence over EU research and innovation programmes and infrastructures.

Response to Commons Science and Technology committee on leaving the EU

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