Home > News and blog > A ‘no deal’ Brexit: implications for universities and minimising risk

A ‘no deal’ Brexit: implications for universities and minimising risk

29 November 2018

​At a Universities UK (UUK) conference to be held today, Thursday 29 November, delegates will consider how universities can address the implications of Brexit.

In his keynote speech, Chief Executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, will set out what universities require from government post-Brexit to deliver maximum benefit to British people, local communities and the economy, regardless of whether there is a deal or not.

Alistair Jarvis said: “It is critical to the national interest, to the economy and wider society, that the UK’s universities thrive post-Brexit – to do so, our government must show the required ambition and provide the right support to ensure that they are at the heart of a successful post-Brexit UK.”

To achieve this desired impact the government must focus on the following policy priorities:

  1. Ensuring the promises made on confirmation of settled status for EU nationals working at our universities are met through a smooth, simple and timely process

  2. Developing an ambitious international education strategy to grow international student numbers

  3. Implementing an immigration system that recognises the value of international students and staff and enables them to enter the UK with minimal barriers and bureaucracy

  4. Supporting the expansion of outward student mobility by securing the UK's involvement in the next Erasmus+ programme from 2021

  5. Supporting the growth of international research collaboration by securing access to, and influence over, the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme (the successor to Horizon 2020)

The speech will also draw attention to the significant and damaging implications of a ‘no deal’ Brexit for universities.

Alistair Jarvis said: “A ‘no deal’ Brexit would have huge implications for universities in all corners of the UK, and prove enormously damaging for regional jobs, growth and skills. EU staff and students at British universities, and UK staff and students at European universities, would be left facing huge uncertainty.”

The event coincides with the publication of UUK’s official ‘no deal’ advice which outlines the risks to universities of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) without a deal.


  1. The conference ‘UK universities: preparing for Brexit’ will take place on Thursday 29 November at Woburn House Conference Centre, 20 Tavistock Square, London.

  2. UUK’s official advice to government on the risks to universities if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal can be found here.

  3. Universities UK is the collective voice of 137 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its mission is to create the conditions for UK universities to be the best in the world; maximising their positive impact locally, nationally and globally. Universities UK acts on behalf of universities, represented by their heads of institution. Visit: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

Key Contacts

Jo Hindle

Jo Hindle

Head of Media
Universities UK

Luke Lambert

Luke Lambert

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Senior Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK


Brexit will impact the UK’s world-leading research – but only if we let it

14 October 2019
With the 31 October Brexit deadline looming, the threats it poses to the UK’s research capacity can still be resolved, writes Professor Hilary Pilkington.

"Sorry everyone, but we need to talk about Brexit."

12 February 2019
Universities UK International Director Vivienne Stern on the conversations the sector is having as we head towards the Brexit denouement.


Majority of universities well-prepared for no-deal Brexit; but continue to fear negative impact

16 September 2019
Analysis has revealed more than three quarters of surveyed UK universities are 'very' or 'extremely concerned' about the negative impact no-deal Brexit will have, but most feel they are prepared for such an eventuality after taking widespread precautions

Horizon Europe agreement offers strong future for research

12 April 2019
Universities UK (UUK) has given its support to the agreement reached between EU institutions on the future shape of the Horizon Europe programme.