Plans to grant European Union nationals only three years of leave to remain in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit could hit recruitment to university courses, the Russell Group has warned.
The mission group – which represents some of the UK’s most prestigious research-intensive institutions – said that students looking to enrol on courses longer than three years in length “would have no guarantee of being able to remain in the UK long enough to complete their course”.
This would cover many medicine and engineering courses, most PhD programmes, and all undergraduate degrees in Scotland.
Under the UK government’s plans, published on 4 September, EU nationals arriving in the UK after a no-deal Brexit on 31 October would be entitled to 36 months of “European temporary leave to remain”.
A “new, Australian-style points-based immigration system” would be introduced from January 2021; European nationals wanting to stay in the UK after this date would need to apply under the new regime when their temporary leave to remain expired.
This scheme differs from arrangements for EU citizens resident in the UK before 31 October. They are able to apply to stay in the UK under the EU settlement scheme.
Hollie Chandler, policy manager at the Russell Group, said: “We are concerned that [the] government’s proposed three-year temporary leave to remain scheme for EU nationals in the event of no deal will impact on the ability of universities to recruit talented students and staff from across the EU.
“In particular, under these proposals EU students arriving after 31 October and looking to enrol on courses that are longer than three years in length – including medicine and engineering courses, most PhD programmes and all undergraduate degrees in Scotland – would have no guarantee of being able to remain in the UK long enough to complete their course.
“The most effective way to resolve uncertainty for EU nationals and provide stability for businesses, charities and universities would be to apply settlement scheme rights to any EU national arriving before the UK is ready to fully implement its future immigration system.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said that there was “no suggestion that students on courses longer than 36 months won’t be able to complete their courses”.
“Those at undergraduate level and above should apply under the student route before the expiry of their European Temporary Leave to Remain (TLR)…Before the end of 2020 students will be required to apply for the Euro TLR scheme if they want to remain here after 31 December 2020,” she said.
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