The Russell Group, which represents 24 of the UK’s leading, research-intensive universities, has issued a warning against newly-announced government plans to limit the length of stay by EU nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
On Wednesday, Boris Johnson announced plans to, in the scenario that the UK leaves the EU without a formal Withdrawal Agreement, grant EU nationals who arrive after 31 October the right to remain in the UK for a three-year period, a programme which will come to an end in January 2021 upon the introduction of an ‘Australian-style points-based immigration system‘.
Plans to grant EU nationals only three years of leave to remain in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit could hit recruitment to longer university courses such as medicine, @RussellGroup has warnedhttps://t.co/aRdCDCiNDn
— TimesHigherEducation (@timeshighered) September 5, 2019
However, leading figures in the Russell Group have voiced concerns about what this may mean for UK universities and their recruitment drive among EU students, many of whom would be thenceforth unable to enrol in most medicine, engineering, Ph.D. courses, and all undergraduate programmes in Scotland, due to a length exceeding three years. These students, according to Hollie Chandler, policy manager at the Russell Group, ‘would have no guarantee of being able to remain in the UK long enough to complete their course‘.
EU citizens arriving before 31 October are currently able to apply for indefinite settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, a right which, according to Ms Chandler, should be afforded to all EU nationals coming to study in Britain until the UK government is ready to ‘fully implement‘ a functional new immigration system.
Responding to the Russell Group’s concerns, a Home Office spokeswoman said that there is, ‘no suggestion that students on courses longer than 36 months won’t be able to complete their courses‘, because they will be able to apply to the European Temporary Leave to Remain scheme under student status before its expiry at the end of 2020.