Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said:
"Our future relationship with the EU has clear implications for universities in the UK. There are currently more than 125,000 students from other EU countries studying at UK universities and 17% of academic staff are from EU countries. The UK is a major beneficiary of the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and networks.
"The government must ensure that the UK remains welcoming to EU students and staff and that we can continue to access valuable and collaborative European research networks.
"Given the UK will remain in the EU for the next two years, there will be no immediate change for universities, staff or students. There are, however, some immediate steps the government should take in this transitional period. Most urgently, the government should provide reassurance to EU nationals currently working in the university sector on their rights to reside and work in the UK post-exit. Staff from EU countries make a vital contribution to university research and teaching and have a positive impact on the British economy and society.
"We also need the government to confirm that EU students starting a course next year (2018), will continue to be eligible for home fee status, and be eligible for loans and grants. As EU students start their research about studying abroad more than 12 months in advance of actual enrolment, it is important that action is taken as soon as possible to prevent a further drop in EU applications for 2018-19 entry."