The director of the representative body Universities UK has published a lengthy blog post detailing the concerns of the higher education sector as the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit becomes increasingly plausible.

Vivienne Stern has outlined her uneasiness about the future of UK universities and the Erasmus programme, along with calls to lower the salary requirement for EEA (European Economic Area) workers’ high-skilled work visas.

Stern explains that ‘the future of the UK’s participation in the Erasmus programme is case in point’. It is understood that students in current placements will be able to continue their studies and will receive full funding until the end of their placement. The UK government has expressed a desire to remain in the Erasmus programme if the EU will agree, however, according to Stern, ‘it is now clear that if we don’t succeed in securing this, there will be no national alternative to enable students to study abroad in Europe. If we lose Erasmus, there will be no scheme to replace it’.

On 27 March Stern will attend a meeting with 400 international higher education representatives to discuss how universities on both sides of the channel are preparing themselves for a ‘no-deal’ scenario. On the agenda will be how new bureaucratic hurdles such as immigration rules, changes in legal statuses and the re-establishing of old partnerships on a new basis will be overcome.

Stern has also called on the government to lower the proposed salary requirement for EEA workers to gain a high-skilled work visa from £30,000 to £21,000. Stern claims, ‘assessing skills through the measure of salary alone is a blunt tool… While we recognise that migration checks and controls are necessary, they must not be at the cost of losing talent’.


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