Two-fifths of scholars ‘more likely to quit UK’ after Brexit vote

UCU uses survey to urge ministers to shelve ‘divisive’ HE bill and focus on Brexit impact

January 9, 2017

Forty per cent of UK academics, and three-quarters of continental EU academics in the country, say they are “more likely to consider leaving” Britain after the Brexit vote, according to a University and College Union survey.

The survey, carried out by YouGov and commissioned by the UCU, also found that 81 per cent of respondents said the government’s plans to give new private providers easier access to degree-awarding powers and university title will have a negative impact on UK higher education.

The survey asked 1,000 lecturers and professors in UK higher education for their view on the impact of the Higher Education and Research Bill and Brexit on the sector.

Forty-two per cent said they were more likely to consider leaving the UK after the Brexit vote, rising to 76 per cent for non-UK EU academics.

EU nationals account for 16 per cent of academic staff at UK universities, according to Higher Education Statistics Agency figures.

Twenty-nine per cent of all respondents said they already knew of academics leaving the UK, while 44 per cent said they knew of academics who had lost access to research funding as a result of the referendum.

An overwhelming majority, 90 per cent, said they thought Brexit would have a negative impact on UK higher education.

Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said: “I am deeply worried that so many academics already know of staff leaving as a result of the Brexit vote, and that three-quarters of EU nationals are now considering leaving the UK.

“The government must focus its full attention on dealing with the impacts of Brexit and shelve the divisive HE bill. Its first act should be to try and retain the talented academics working in this country by guaranteeing EU staff already working in the UK the right to remain.”

In other findings, 76 per cent of respondents said that linking the teaching excellence framework to tuition fee increases in line with inflation will have a negative impact on UK higher education.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents said student satisfaction would be an ineffective or very ineffective measure of teaching quality, while 55 per cent and 59 per cent respectively said the same of graduate employment and dropout rates.

Ms Hunt said: “The level of concern among staff about the bill’s plans must be cause for alarm. We have to have robust requirements for new higher education providers in order to safeguard the UK’s global academic reputation.”

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