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Universities and colleges unite to fight Brexit

Image credit: Universities Scotland

Universities and colleges unite to fight Brexit

Colleges, universities, trade unions and the Scottish Government have agreed a united approach to protect Scotland from the worst effects of Brexit.

They have outlined how they will press the UK government to reintroduce a Post Study Work Visa in Scotland, continue research collaboration and safeguard education relationships with Europe.

Universities Scotland estimates that Scottish universities generate £11bn gross value every year.

The sectors will pull together to safeguard Scotland’s global reputation in research, science and education, recognising the disproportionate impact Brexit will have on EU staff and students north of the border.

The statement – signed by Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland, the UCU, Unison, the EIS, NUS Scotland, The Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government – coincides with a Brexit summit at the University of Glasgow, organised by Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead.

Lochhead will join representatives from the sectors in Brussels and London in the coming weeks to press their case.

He said: “Brexit is the single biggest risk to our colleges and universities, threatening the ability to attract and retain EU staff and students and continue vital research.

“I welcome this joint statement which, amid the current chaos, sends a clear, powerful message that colleges and universities will use their collective influence to press for much needed answers from the UK Government.

“We will also work to retain our historic links with our European partners and ensure they are in no doubt that Scotland continues to welcome EU citizens to study or work here.”

Around nine per cent of all university students in Scotland are EU domiciled and 27 per cent of full time research staff are EU nationals.

On average, around 10 per cent of Scottish universities’ research income comes from the EU. 

Professor Andrea Nolan, convener of Universities Scotland, said: “People have been top of our Brexit priorities since the referendum result came through.

“That’s still the case, whether the UK Government gets a deal or not. More than 4,500 EU national staff in our universities have already had to endure two years of instability with their lives and careers put to the back of the queue.

“As Brexit reaches the final stages it is really important we continue to emphasise how much our staff and students matter to us and repeat the message that we’ll keep working to secure the earliest guarantees of their rights.

“Europe is such an important partner for Scottish higher education and we want to secure the best possible ongoing relationship, whatever the outcome from Brexit.  These relationships are central to the excellence of our higher education, bringing mutual and wider benefit to Scotland’s society and economy.”

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