News from Government

Current Issues for Higher Education

On 8 November 2017, the UK Government and the EU reached a provisional agreement on the UK’s separation from the EU (though not the subsequent relationship).

It was agree that “the UK will continue to participate in the Union programmes financed by the EU budget 2014-2020 until their closure”.

This means that UK institutions will be able to participate in  EU funding programmes such as Horizon 2020, and that staff will remain eligible for Erasmus+ until the end dates of those programmes.

The agreement also ensures that the 46,000 other EU nationals working across the university sector can remain in the UK indefinitely.

It should however be noted that this agreement is not finalised until the negotiations are complete – likely to be in around a year’s time.

Previous commitments from the UK Government include:

  • Government will underwrite competitive EU funding secured by British Organisations beyond the UK’s departure from the EU..  Further information.
  • EU students who beginning courses at UK universities until 2018/19 will continue to be eligible for home fees and student finance. Further information.
  • The rights and status of EU nationals in the UK remained unchanged following the triggering of Article 50. Government has proposed that EU citizens resident in the UK for more than five years will be entitled to apply for ‘settled status’. Concerned parties can sign up for updates here. Further information.
  • Jo Johnson MP, the Universities Minister, confirmed that “[the Government] will underwrite successful bids for Erasmus+, which are submitted while the UK is still a Member State, even if they are not approved until after we leave, and/or payments continue beyond the point of Exit UK”. The Minister also confirmed that  “In the event that we no longer participate in the Erasmus+ Programme after Exit, we will make arrangements to administer the underwrite and support students to undertake their Erasmus+ study periods abroad”.

Brexit Policy and Legislation

The Government has published a helpful summary of its priorities and approach to Brexit.

The United Kingdom’s exit from and new relationship with the European Union (White Paper, February 2017).
This lays out twelve pillars for the Government’s negotiations, as well as contextualising broader goals.

Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (White Paper, March 2017).
The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) has summarised this approach here.

Article 50 notification letter (29 March 2017).
This letter, from the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to Donald Tusk (President of the European Union Commission), notified the Commission of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union, formally beginning the two-year period of exit negotiations.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (13 July 2o17)
This Bill would repeal the European Communities Act 1972, while allowing for the incorporation into UK legislation large amounts of legislation currently derived from the European Union. The progress of the Bill can be followed here.

Nuclear materials and safeguards issues (Position Paper, 13 July 2017).
The government has notified the European Union of its intention to leave Euratom. This paper lays out the government’s position with regards to the ownership and responsibility for special fissile material and related safeguards equipment as it does so.

Migration Advisory Committee – The impact of Brexit on the UK labour market (Commission, 27 July 2017).
The Home Office has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to report on the impact on the UK labour market of the UK’s exit from the European Union and how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy. The commission is to report by September 2018.