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2018 Higher Education Service Group Conference
19 September 2017

Conference notes that existing UNISON policy states that Exiting of the European Union (EU) must not allow racists and xenophobes to use borders to divide workers. The ‘right to remain’ for EU workers and freedom of movement must be defended. Workers united in solidarity together are stronger in defending and promoting our interests across Europe.

UNISON opposes all racists and xenophobe attacks and we stand in solidarity with those facing such hatred and violence in the work place and in our communities.

UNISON Members working in UK universities are committed to ensuring that the sector remains international, open and welcoming to all. With the UK’s future relationship with the EU uncertain following the referendum on EU membership, Higher Education (HE) faces a period of considerable uncertainty for students, staff, and management.

In HE, Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA) reports that 16 per cent of research and development funding received by UK providers in 2014/15 came from overseas sources, and the majority (68 per cent) from within the EU. UK HE has benefitted from international collaboration across EU borders.

UK Higher Education has a very strong international reputation, but this relies heavily on its ability to attract the best talent from around the world to work and live here. The HESA recorded 43,015 EU staff full-time equivalent (FTE), academic and non-academic, working in HE during 2014/15. This equates to 10.65 per cent of the total workforce. In uncertain times workers look to their trade union to campaign for their rights in the workplace.

Conference calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive (HE SGE) to

1)Recognise that the issue of immigration and free movement of people will continue to be a high profile issue for members working in the HE Sector and campaign for a joint statement with Universities UK (UUK)/Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) on ensuring ongoing support for those EU citizens who wish to remain in the UK following the UK’s exit from the EU.

2)Work with Labour Link to consider how we can encourage the Labour Party and other political leaders to ensure that the impact on EU research funding, EU student numbers / funding and any potential staff recruitment and retention issue in Higher Education remains at the top of the political agenda.

3)Encourage branches to continue to campaign against any form of racial violence on campus, encouraging members to report such incidents and providing support to UNISON members who experience any form of hate crime and discrimination;

4)Promote UNISON’s EU Migrant Workers network to existing members and encourage other EU migrant workers on campus to join UNISON.

5)Survey members and branches on the experiences and treatment of international and EU staff and students, including any discrimination and institutions going beyond government requirements and publicise any good practice.

6)Organise local and national media campaign, highlighting the value of international student and staff

7)Campaign with other trade unions, National Union of Students (NUS) and community groups for the overthrow of restrictive legislation which affects international students and staff and no change in the immigration status of EU residents if UK leaves EU.