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Brexit: how universities can prepare for a no-deal scenario

Brexit: How universities can prepare for no deal 

Universities UK International (UUKi) has worked with the European University Association (EUA) to create a briefing for universities in the UK and across Europe to prepare for a no-deal Brexit scenario.


Brexit negotiations have resulted in two documents: a Withdrawal Agreement relating to the issues to be solved as the UK leaves the EU; and a Political Declaration describing the UK and EU’s future relationship. Formally, negotiations have ended, but at the time of writing it is still uncertain whether UK parliament will agree to these documents as they stand. Due to the short time before the UK will leave the EU (29 March 2019) and the difficulties that leaving without a separation agreement in place would create for universities in the EU and UK, it is necessary to plan for the consequences of a so-called ‘no-deal scenario’.

In this scenario, the UK would go from being an integral part of the EU on 29 March 2019, to having the status of a third country the day after – without a transition period. This would lead to disruption and uncertainty in a range of areas and require new arrangements and agreements to replace those currently in place.

It is important to underline that a no-deal is a worst-case scenario. We remain hopeful that the UK and EU will reach an agreement regarding the terms of the UK’s departure. If the UK ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will remain a full participant in EU programmes such as Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 until the end of these programmes in 2020. Plus, EU law will continue to apply during the negotiated implementation period, meaning that the UK will continue to enjoy the benefits of EU membership, but will no longer be involved in EU decision making processes.

For citizens’ rights this means that EU citizens arriving in the UK or UK citizens arriving in the EU by 31 December 2020 will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and will be allowed to remain where they are without changes to the rights that they are now enjoying.

This briefing, produced by UUKi and the EUA, is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a framework and a methodology to assist universities in the UK and in the EU to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

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