Brexit readiness checklist
Be prepared as possible by reading our Brexit readiness checklist.
At present, there is a very high risk that the Brexit negotiations could end without a deal being reached on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. Unless further preparatory actions are taken, or commitments made by government, such an outcome would create immediate uncertainty for EU nationals in UK universities, prospective students and staff from across the EU, and for those participating in any of the Horizon 2020, Structural Funds or Erasmus+ programmes.
Suggested actions to mitigate risk for universities include how government could build on the stability measures it has already put in place for universities that would help minimise any disruption in the event of no deal, to provide greater certainty for the university sector over the coming months. This includes government committing to:
There are also several suggested actions for universities to consider. Even in the event of no deal, UUK wants to see the government work to secure an effective longer-term settlement for universities as set out in our Brexit priorities paper, through dialogue both domestically with the higher education sector and with the European Commission.
If the Brexit negotiations end without a deal in place, then:
Any impact from a no deal Brexit could result in the following outcomes taking effect on exit day:
The government has already committed to a number of stability measures beyond exit day (including technical notices). These are set out below.
EU citizens' rights: the Government has published a policy paper on citizens' rights in the event of a no deal. It confirms that in the event of a no deal, the EU Settlement Scheme will continue to be implemented, enabling EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by exit day to secure their status and continue to be able to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis after we exit the EU as they do now. The Scheme opened on 30 March 2019. The planned application deadline will be brought forward to 31 December 2020 in the event of a no deal. Only EU citizens living in the UK by 31 October 2019 will be able to apply for the Settlement Scheme. In a no deal scenario, EU citizens and their close family members who move to the UK after Brexit and wish to stay beyond 2020 will need to apply for a UK immigration status granting them permission to stay. After Brexit, the Home Office will open a new voluntary immigration scheme – the European temporary leave to remain (Euro TLR) Scheme – to provide a route to apply for this immigration status. Applications will involve a simple online process and identity, security and criminality checks. Successful applicants to the Euro TLR scheme will be granted a period of 36 months' leave to remain in the UK, running from the date the leave is granted.
Horizon 2020: In July 2018, the UK government extended a commitment to underwrite payments of Horizon 2020 awards so that it covers grant applications for funding streams open to third country participation (i.e. multi-beneficiary grants) that are submitted after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. In September 2018, UKRI launched an online portal for UK-based recipients of Horizon 2020 funding to log details of their grants. In August 2019, the UK government announced that any Horizon 2020 mono-beneficiary funding applications which are submitted before the UK leaves the EU but which are deemed ineligible after the UK has left will be evaluated and funded by UKRI. This will cover applications to the European Research Council, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and the SME Instrument. In October 2019, UKRI published implementation details for the Horizon 2020 funding guarantee.
Structural Funds: the same government guarantee of EU funding also underwrites the UK's allocation for structural and investment fund projects under the EU budget period to 2020, and managing authorities will continue to sign new projects until programme closure.
Erasmus+: the government has agreed to underwrite the payment of awards to all successful UK bids to the Erasmus+ programme which have been signed before exit day, in the event of a no-deal scenario. The government has launched its Grants Management Portal and has provided further technical guidance on accessing the UK government underwrite guarantee. This will allow funding for the mobility of outbound UK students to continue but will not extend to EU students wishing to study in the UK. In the event of a no deal, the European Commission has also ratified legislation to underwrite the grants of both UK and EU students participating in Erasmus+ who have already begun their mobilities prior to the date exit. Therefore, EU students currently on an Erasmus+ placement at a UK university (and vice-versa) will not be affected by the outcome of the negotiations.
EU student fee status/financial support: governments across the UK have confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 and in 2020–21 will still be eligible for home fee status and for financial support as per existing rules. In England, Chris Skidmore MP, the Universities Minister, has confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 and in 2020–21 at an English higher education institution will remain eligible for home status even in a no-deal scenario. The Welsh government has confirmed that the same EU student fee status and financial support arrangements will continue in 2019–20 and in 2020–2021. Scotland has confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 and in 2020-21 will be eligible for free tuition, even in a no-deal scenario. For Northern Ireland, the government has also confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 or 2020–2021 will be eligible for home fee status even in a no-deal scenario.
Qualifications recognition: in a no-deal scenario, the current mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) system between the EEA, Switzerland and the UK will cease. A new qualification recognition system will operate after Brexit. The government has confirmed that recognition decisions taken before 31 October will remain valid after Brexit, and that, "as far as is possible", applications made by but not concluded by Brexit day will continue to be assessed as per existing MRPQ rules.
Despite the above measures, there remains a substantial amount of uncertainty and unanswered questions for universities should the UK face a no deal outcome. This includes a lack of clarity on:
Based on these areas of uncertainty, UUK suggests a number of actions that government should take to ensure stability across the university sector in the prospect of 'no deal', including:
Further, UUK suggests that universities consider taking the following action in order to prepare for a possible no deal scenario:
These suggested actions are set out in more detail in our briefing, covering: EU citizens' rights and migration rules; participation in the Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and Structural Funds programmes, and on student fees and qualifications.
UUK is working with universities and sector organisations to develop information in these areas. Further information can be found in our briefing.
Read Universities UK's recommendations for government and universities in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit as a PDF.
Read UUKi/EUA's joint guidance, Brexit: How universities can prepare for a no-deal scenario.