Development & Alumni Relations Office 

QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY warns of risks of brexit

13 January 2017

Queen’s University has today (13 January) highlighted four key issues – access to EU research funding, the status of current and future EU staff, student recruitment and mobility and the relationship with the Republic of Ireland – which pose ‘challenges and risks’ to its ability to attract international staff, students and EU research funds, in a post-Brexit Europe.

The EU Exit Institutional Position Paper, which analyses the possible implications of Brexit specifically for Queen's, warns that a number of key programme for government (PfG) objectives will be compromised if the University’s concerns are not addressed during the negotiating process.

The detailed 13-page document highlights the University’s strong record of success in securing EU research funds (£56m since 2011/12), outlined the number of EU academics and researchers and professional support staff working at Queen’s (479 and 285 respectively) and detailed the number of EU students enrolled at the University (1,010) for the 2016-17 academic year.

The paper examines each of the key issues in detail and identifies a number of actions that the University says should be implemented by Government.

In relation to accessing EU research funding, the University called on Government to ensure continued full access to, and influence over, the current (and all future) Framework Programme (Horizon 2020), so that there was no ‘restriction or reduction in access to other EU Research and Innovation Programmes and infrastructures.’

Queen’s has attracted £56m in EU research funding in the past five years along with a further £14.5m from Horizon 2020, a current EU research fund. Horizon 2020, which awards funding for research and innovation, is worth €80bn (£69bn). The Northern Ireland Executive has a target of obtaining £145m from the fund.

With one fifth of its staff (736 out of 3,673) from non-UK EU countries, Queen’s called on Government to confirm ‘the continued employment and free movement rights for current and future EU staff and their dependants’ following the UK’s exit from the EU, ‘with no detriment suffered thereafter.’

Addressing the University’s concerns on students, the paper highlighted the fact that EU undergraduate applications to Queen’s had already dropped by over 6% this year. It called on Government to retain the current status regarding tuition fees, access to loans, grants and other support for EU students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) who were considering studying in the UK. Other student-related issues the University has asked Government to address include:

  • Retention of existing rights as regards the immigration status of existing and prospective EU students and their right to remain in the UK for work or further study
  • If the status quo is not protected, provide clarification on the tuition fee rate, and ability to access student loans, grants or other support, for EU students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) considering studying in the UK in the transition period before Brexit, particularly those starting in 2018-19.
  • Advocate for an evidence-based reform of the current immigration system that more clearly recognises the benefits of international students and, more generally, ensure that decisions regarding immigration reflect regional needs.
  • Implement a comprehensive communications strategy to promote the message that the UK remains open and welcoming to international students, in recognition of the important contributions these students make to our society, economy and our universities.
  • Ensure that future EU academic and student mobility is not impeded by unnecessary bureaucracy, regardless of the immigration status of EU nationals, and that continued participation in Erasmus is secured
  • Retention of the current mobility programmes such as Erasmus, and full access for participation in all future mobility programmes.

 The document, which warns of the impact of a ‘harder’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, referred to the ‘strong cooperation and partnerships that exist via the current North-South government structures’ which the University says should remain in place. And it was ‘vital that staff and students can continue to travel across the land border unimpeded’ post-Brexit.

The University called on Government to re-establish participation of DfE as a partner in the SFI Investigators Programme to facilitate cross-border research collaboration and to retain all current mobility programmes, such as Erasmus, and to ensure full access for participation in all future mobility programmes.

The paper also indicated that it was essential that the EU exit does not impact the University’s connections with Britain and is not seen as an obstacle to individuals wishing to travel to Northern Ireland.

The EU Exit Institutional Position Paper is the latest response from the University to the referendum held last June when the UK voted to leave the European Union. The full paper, and the University’s Brexit Resource Guide, is available on the EU Referendum webpage.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office, tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091.


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