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UK Home Secretary calls for report on EU migration

The UK’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd has commissioned a report on the impact Brexit will have on the UK labour market. A key sector for enquiry will be higher education, where 17% of academic staff are EU nationals and a further 12,490 of EU staff are in non-academic positions.

The UK Home Office has commissioned a report into how Brexit will affect EU migration to the UK.The UK Home Office has commissioned a report into how Brexit will affect EU migration to the UK. Photo: flickr/Maina Kiai

17% of UK academic staff are EU nationals

The Migration Advisory Committee will produce the report and will issue a call for evidence in the coming weeks. The results will be delivered by September 2018 – six months before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.

In her commissioning letter to the MAC, Rudd recalled the immigration unease which surfaced during the lead up to the Brexit vote.

“Concerns about the sustainability of unrestricted migration from the EU featured strongly in the debate surrounding the referendum,” she said. “The public must have confidence in our ability to control immigration from the EU.”

“The public must have confidence in our ability to control immigration from the EU”

The future status of international students and EU staff members remains uncertain, as Rudd made it clear that “after the UK leaves the EU, free movement will end but migration between the UK and the EU will continue”.

Though international students and EU citizens working in the sector are not highlighted specifically in her letter, the Home Secretary suggested that the sector’s interest will have a bearing on the government’s immigration overhaul.

Alongside commissioning the MAC report, Rudd set out the government’s plans to liaise with business, industry and educational institutions.

Responding to the commissioning of the report, acting chief executive of Universities UK Alistair Jarvis commended the government’s decision.

“It is right that the government is asking for evidence and advice from universities and other sectors on the benefits of EU migration,” he said.

Amid fears of how the UK leaving the European bloc will affect the UK’s attractiveness, Jarvis said the report’s inception was “an opportunity to make sure that a reshaped, post-Brexit immigration system encourages talented European and international staff and students to choose the UK”.

Rudd pointed out that the UK government published its immigration offer to the EU on June 26, which includes the availability to apply for “settled status”, once EU citizens have lived in the UK for five years or more. This includes those who arrive before the cut-off date, which has yet to be finalised.

However, the document offers no further clarification for EU nationals hoping to study in the UK after 2019.

Universities UK set out in June what they believe the UK government should prioritise in Brexit negotiations. These include full residency rights for EU citizens working in the university sector, and the continued participation in the Horizon 2020 research program.

The MAC report announcement came the same day as a report from the Office for Statistics Regulation raised concerns about using International Passenger Survey statistics to measure international student migration.

“This is an opportunity to make sure that a post-Brexit immigration system encourages talented European staff and students to choose the UK”

The OSR pointed out that the validity of these numbers is vital because “the estimates of long-term international student migration are some of the highest profile and most debated migration statistics”, and therefore clearly hold political capital at a time when the UK is considering its post-Brexit immigration policies.

The Office of National Statistics, which is regulated by the OSR, announced plans to use additional sources to count international student numbers in February 2017, due to concerns over the validity of IPS figures.

Despite the 2018 deadline, Rudd has requested interim reports, and MAC chair Alan Manning said the committee will “consider the possibility of producing interim responses”.

The call for evidence will be publicly available on the MAC website within “a few weeks”. A MAC representative told The PIE News that educational institutions such as The Royal Society, Universities UK and the Russell Group would be contacted as part of the enquiry.

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