Universities and colleges issue joint statement on Brexit

Published: 22 November 2018

United approach to protect Scotland from the worst effects of Brexit

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

The joint statement sets out 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

Joint statement by Scottish Government, Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland, National Union of Students Scotland, UNISON, Educational Institute of Scotland, University and College Union and Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Scotland's story, and especially that of our universities, has been shaped by our close relationship with Europe. The UK’s expected departure from the European Union (EU) raises major issues and risks for our colleges and universities as well as for their staff and students. We will work together to do everything we can to safeguard and continue to strengthen Scotland’s relationship with the rest of Europe.

We are proud that, to date, Scotland has been a destination of choice for staff and students from around the globe. EU nationals - whether students, researchers, lecturers or other staff – continue to be welcome at our universities and colleges. EU nationals add to the diversity of our communities, enrich the learning experience, promote international collaboration and networks, boost the quality of our research, support knowledge exchange, and contribute to local businesses and jobs.

We welcome opportunities for Scottish-based students to study abroad and for international students to study in Scotland, particularly through Erasmus+ which is particularly important to students and others who would not otherwise be able to access such opportunities. We recognise that student mobility improves academic attainment, enhances the learning experience and increases employability, as well as promotes Scotland as a learning nation globally. We seek clarity from the UK Government on their detailed plans for implementing the guarantee in respect of Erasmus+ in the event of No Deal, and on their commitment on future participation.

We want EU nationals living, working and studying in Scotland to feel settled and secure. We will therefore continue to encourage the UK Government to provide an early guarantee of the rights of EU nationals already working and studying in Scotland or entering the UK in future to do so. We also call on the UK Government to introduce a post study work route in Scotland to enable our universities and colleges to continue to attract and retain talent from across the world.

Scotland’s research is widely recognised as amongst the best in the world and is underpinned by collaborations which have helped secure significant funding from European research programmes. We will work together to support Scottish universities in building on their existing relationships to continue to collaborate with a wide range of European partners. We call on the UK Government to make clear how the guarantee in the event of No Deal will be implemented for Horizon 2020 in practice and seek clarity on how the UK Government will enable the UK to fully participate in Horizon Europe.

Through the full use of its devolved powers, the Scottish Government will do all it can to address the risks of Brexit, supporting the sustainability and competitiveness of Scotland’s tertiary system. This will include the attraction of students from the EU, enriching the experience of all students, and supporting our economy, public services and culture.

We will work together using our collective influence in Europe and beyond to ensure it is widely understood that Scotland’s universities and colleges remain open and welcoming to EU staff and students, and will do our utmost to continue to collaborate with our European partners.


First published: 22 November 2018