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UUK warns against ‘no-deal’ consequences

With the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looming, Universities UK has published a briefing that sets out the consequences that exiting the EU without a deal would have on the country’s students, researchers and 136 member universities.

UUK warn that leaving the EU without a deal could have detrimental impact on the UK's students, universities and economy. Photo: Pexels

The economy would forego £390 million per year brought through incoming Erasmus+

Among the challenges outlined, UUK warned that around 17,000 UK students would no longer be able to study or work abroad as part of Erasmus+ in the 2020–21 academic year, and that the British economy would forego £390 million per year brought through incoming Erasmus+ students’ living expenses.

“This is because EU students would lose the right to come to UK universities under the scheme,” UUK explained in the briefing.

“The truth is that no deal is not good for us”

Additionally, a no-deal exit could jeopardise the UK’s ability to associate with the next Horizon and Erasmus+ programs running run from 2021–27, UUK continued.

“UK researchers remain in the dark about whether they will be eligible to lead or participate in key projects,” read the briefing.

“We have already seen a sharp drop in UK universities leading projects through Horizon 2020 because of uncertainty.”

It also highlighted that there is a “real risk” that potential EU students considering courses of more than three years may be put off from choosing UK universities completely due to loan uncertainty and additional visa requirements.

“EU students…such as medics, linguists, PhD students and most undergraduates in Scotland would have to apply for a Tier 4 visa and face additional costs and uncertainty about their immigration status part way through their studies,” the briefing continued.

To mitigate some of the potential consequences, UUK set out a list of “stabilising policies” that UK universities would need to have in place by the time of a no-deal exit, including “fully-funded replacement schemes” for Erasmus+ and research funding from the European Research Council and Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions.

“This will ensure the UK can continue to participate in collaborative research projects on a third-country basis following our departure from the EU… [and] improve on recent progress made to increase the number of people studying abroad,” it explained.

Posting on Twitter, director of UUK International Vivienne Stern said she believes that the organisation has done everything it can to help the university sector understand the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, and prepare for it where possible.

“The truth is that no deal is not good for us,” said Stern.

“We need the government to make the concrete reassurances we need that in the event that we drop out of the European programs that support collaboration, research and student exchange, that we’ll have something ready and in place at a national level – without which we will really suffer.”

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