Brexit and our European Unions (EU) colleagues

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2018 Higher Education Service Group Conference
21 September 2017

Colleagues may recall the lacklustre support by the UK Universities for any position during the Brexit Referendum despite UNISON’s call to Vice Chancellors (VCs) to take a position to support EU staff and students. There are 45,000 EU citizens working in the Higher Education sector in the UK (11% of the Higher Education (HE) workforce) and they face an uncertain future around their residential and working rights. Our EU colleagues play an invaluable role in making Britain’s university sector one of the best in the world.

Wherever you stand on Brexit you can’t deny that our universities are propped up by an army of hardworking EU nationals, working in both academic and wider support roles. Many of these people have contributed greatly to the fabric of our country and the HE sector. It is now important that we stand up and fight to secure their futures in the UK.

The Yorkshire and Humberside Higher Education Service Group have been running a campaign calling on the region’s Vice Chancellors to publically support EU citizens working in the region’s universities. This follows the move by the London School of Economics who are reimbursing the costs of some potential permanent residence applications. Newcastle University and Imperial College are offering interest free loans to cover the costs of visa applications for EEA staff and their family.

At the moment we don’t know exactly what rights will be of EU citizens living and working in the UK post Brexit. We believe UNISON has a role to protect its members and back any campaign that could secure their rights and employment status post Brexit.

Conference we ask the Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) to:

1)Provide a campaign pack for all branches to use to promote a national campaign supporting our EU colleagues.

2)Call on all VCs and college principals to publically support their EU staff and to provide free legal and immigration advice to their EU staff and to explore financial support for residential and citizenship applications.