EUA & UUK pen document to guide HEIs in the event of a no-deal Brexit
With just a month to go until Britain leaves the EU, the European Universities Association and Universities UK have published a document to assist universities to mitigate some potential disruptions in the event of a no-deal scenario.
From advice around fees and residence permits to study abroad and GDPR, the document outlines some of the key areas where universities can get involved and actions that can be taken to lessen any negative impact.
“We are encouraging our member universities and their partners… to prepare for every eventuality”
“However, the document cannot make up for technical guidance by the European Commission or individual governments,” the EUA warned.
“Preparing for a no-deal Brexit should facilitate measures so that ties between EU and UK institutions will not be overly disrupted and so that individual institutions will be able to mitigate at least some of the consequences of a disorderly Brexit,” the EUA said in a statement.
“In some cases, universities can prepare internally, and in others, they will need to seek advice from their governments, the EU or independent legal experts.”
The document identifies four major areas of importance for universities that are likely to be affected by a no-deal scenario: people, cooperation, data and trade.
“Concerning the consequences for students and staff, it is important to have answers to questions regarding their residency status from 30 March,” the document explained.
Regarding tuition fees in event of a no-deal, the document explains that UK students in some countries would “move from a national to a third-country fee regime”.
“These students will need clarification on whether they need to pay fees, and if so for what period as the change would in many cases happen mid-semester,” it continued.
In terms of potential visa costs for travel to and from the UK, increases in travel time and with the invalidation of the European Health Insurance Card in the UK for EU citizens were some of the concerns highlighted in the document.
Uncertainty around the UK’s cooperation in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 has been a major concern for many universities leaders and stakeholders in the international education space, with some describing a no-deal scenario as potentially “catastrophic” for such programs.
While the government has committed to underwrite funding to ensure UK participants can continue to access Erasmus+ until the end of 2020.
However, how this guarantee will operate in practice, including who will disburse the funding and what terms and conditions will apply to beneficiaries as yet remains unclear.
In the event of no-deal, the document advises university partners in the UK and EU to “plan together” and give clear information about the consequences to students and staff.
It advised universities to: “Ask national governments if funding will be available to support mobility to and from the UK in the event that the UK government fails to agree continued participation in Erasmus+” and to “seek to create bilateral parallel or back-up partnership agreements before the exit date to allow exchanges to continue as they are.”
“Deal or no deal we will have plenty to talk about”
But despite the potential problems in the event of a no-deal scenario, the document concluded these “should be resolvable once the appropriate answers have been found”.
“The university sector remains relatively uncomplicated compared to many other sectors, and even a no-deal Brexit should not prevent universities on our continent from cooperating in the years to come,” it reads.
Speaking to The PIE News, a UUKi representative said they are “hopeful” that a no-deal Brexit can be avoided.
“However, we are encouraging our member universities and their partners in continental Europe to prepare for every eventuality, including a ‘no-deal’ British exit,” they added.
Following a series of evidentiary sessions in 2018, the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee called on the UK government to clarify its plans for the country’s future access to Erasmus programs.
And in a recent blog on the UUKi website, director Vivienne Stern warned that there is no national alternative to enable students to study abroad in Europe if access to Erasmus is lost.
“I simply don’t know what the position will be on March 29,” Stern wrote. “But I do know that two days earlier I’ll be meeting with 400 international higher education colleagues at our annual gathering of those who lead on international strategies in the UK’s universities, joined by counterparts from around the world.
“Deal or no deal we will have plenty to talk about.”
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