Prime Minister Theresa May has officially notified the European Union that the UK is leaving the European Union, thus triggering Article 50 in the 'Brexit' process. Negotiations are now expected to begin as quickly as possible.
I recognise that this situation continues to cause great uncertainty for staff and both current and prospective students. There also continues to be a lack of clarity on many of the issues which affect us institutionally, such as the nature of future research and teaching programmes which involve collaboration across Europe.
Last Friday, during a visit to the University, Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced that the Scottish Government has extended its guarantee to EU nationals choosing to study in Scotland. This now covers those who will be enrolling in 2018-19 and confirms they will continue to have access to free tuition, including tuition fee support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). SAAS will assess applications against existing eligibility criteria, and will provide funding in the normal way.
This is both welcoming and assuring for universities and for students. We now urgently need confirmation of the rights of EU staff and their dependents to live and work in the UK and to access public services.
We continue to support the efforts of Universities Scotland and Universities UK in lobbying government at the UK and Scottish levels to confirm policy proposals on the key issues for universities.
I, along with the other Scottish Principals and Vice-Chancellors, have communicated to Government our priorities:
- We want Scotland to be as open as possible to continued close relationships with our European neighbours, as well as being open to the wider world
- We want EU students to be able to come to Scotland without visa restrictions.
- We seek urgent confirmation of the right of EU staff and their dependents who are in Scotland before Brexit to live and work in the UK and to access public services.
- We seek the closest possible research relationship with the EU, supporting our collaborative networks with our European neighbours.
We need to be able to attract highly talented EU staff and students to Scottish universities post-Brexit, and to ensure the continued contribution from those who are currently here. Our EU staff and students are a vital part of the richness, diversity and quality of our University, and we will continue to strive to ensure that remains the case.
EU colleagues should be aware that we are offering an updated legal perspective session for staff, which will take place on Thursday 27 April 2017 at 2pm - 4pm in the D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre, Tower Building, City Campus.
The slides presented at previous sessions are also available to view on the Human Resources website.
You can also read more:
- Universities Scotland's Brexit priorities
- Universities UK 'Frequently Asked Questions' for staff and students
Professor Sir Pete Downes
Principal and Vice-Chancellor