11 Oct 2016
MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, has set out a number of recommendations for the government’s Brexit negotiations in a new policy paper, Trade in higher education services and research – negotiating Brexit, published today.
The paper points out that UK universities have forged highly successful and beneficial relationships with the European Union and that the UK has been able to export education without tariff barriers to a market of 500 million people. The primary target of these exports has been EU students who study at UK universities and whose fees and off-campus expenditure is worth around £4bn of economic output to the UK each year.
In addition, the UK receives £836m in research funding and universities throughout the UK are leading projects in receipt of European structural funds which are adding value to local economies.
The MillionPlus report concludes that the UK should allow students from EU countries to become temporary residents with the right to live and study in the UK with minimal restrictions post-Brexit provided that reciprocal arrangements are applied to UK students studying in Europe. The policy paper also says that the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly and the Executive in Northern Ireland and the UK Government must give an early guarantee to fund EU students on the same basis as their home students up to 2020 to avoid the UK losing market share.
Professor Dave Phoenix, Chair of MillionPlus and Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University, said:
“Discussions about whether or not Ministers are intent on a hard or soft Brexit miss the point. The government’s negotiating position cannot be decided behind closed doors with key stakeholders such as universities excluded.
“Membership of the EU is currently worth at least £6bn in trade in higher education services and research and universities are leading European structural funding schemes which make a real and positive difference in regions throughout the UK.
“Replacing the value of this trade from sources wholly outside the EU is neither desirable nor can it be achieved overnight. There are very good reasons why Ministers should ensure that the UK’s higher education trading links with Europe are retained, albeit on potentially different but reciprocal terms.
“The Prime Minister must now make clear which Ministers and officials have responsibility to work with universities, not only on the different options but also on their potential consequences for the UK’s higher education sector.
“Our recommendations provide a starting point for these discussions but also highlight the decisions which UK Ministers and Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must take as a matter of urgency to ensure that the UK’s universities are not disadvantaged during the Brexit negotiations and any transition period.”
The MillionPlus report recommends:
Notes to editors