A survey of Universities UK members, an interest group which represents 130 higher education institutions including the University of Southampton and Solent University, has found that 80% are either ‘very‘ or ‘extremely‘ worried about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and the effects it will have on their industry, despite a majority affirming that they are either ‘fully‘ or ‘very‘ prepared for the outcome.
Speaking to the Guardian, anonymous vice-chancellors of UK universities have claimed that they are taking measures such as stockpiling essentials like toilet paper and food to alleviate any supply chain issues that may occur after an October 31st departure from the European Union. Despite admitting the unlikely nature of such a scenario, one vice-chancellor said, ‘[i]f we run out of loo roll then we have to close and send everyone home, it’s as simple as that‘.
Universities with teaching hospitals as part of NHS trusts said that they were most concerned about a potential shortage of medical and pharmaceutical supplies, something they have discussed with suppliers.
🗨️ "No-deal could leave an indelible footprint on the higher education landscape for years to come"
UUK has investigated the sector's preparedness ahead of a possible no-deal exit from the EU
— Universities UK (@UniversitiesUK) September 17, 2019
Half of participating universities also said that they have seen a negative impact on numbers of incoming EU students, and 60% claimed to have lost prospective or existing staff to more stable, global rivals, in light of prolonged Brexit uncertainty.
These survey results come just months after Universities UK and the Russell Group, which represents the UK’s 24 most research intensive universities, issued an open warning to politicians and the government about the risks to ‘[o]ur 50,000 EU staff and 130,000 EU students, not to mention the 15,000 UK students studying in Europe’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which would, the letter claims, damage the UK’s global reputation as a research leader.
The British government has provided guarantees on the continuation of Horizon 2020 (the ‘biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever‘) funding in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and details of the EU Settlement Scheme, a necessity for EU students wishing to remain in the UK after 2020, can be found here.