No to a Hard Brexit

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2018 Higher Education Service Group Conference
21 September 2017

Our political landscape has become dominated by the referendum decision to leave the European Union. Whatever the specific position in January 2018, there are particular principles which will defend the rights and freedoms of both UK and EU nationals working in Higher Education (HE).

At the time of writing we have not seen full details of how the Erasmus scheme will be protected – this is a key feature in helping UK and EU students experience education abroad and develops intercultural links.

We know that our campuses as well as our communities have seen an increase in racially motivated crimes in the time since the referendum. Trade unions on campus are a key feature in promoting anti-racism and making the case for equality and inclusion.

Staff in HE remain concerned that Brexit will be used as an excuse by employers to degrade terms & conditions: our campaigns need to have a focus on this aspect.

We have already seen a number of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) offer legal and immigration help to EU staff and UNISON should applaud this.

Finally, we recognise the unresolved situation relating to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and note our concern for and solidarity with our HE colleagues on both sides in relation to the impact of a new border.

Conference resolves:

a)Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) to provide a comprehensive guide to the impact of Brexit on Higher Education staff. This is not with a view to Leave or Remain, but to educate members and activists on the effects on their terms & conditions and wider implications.

b)HESGE to call on all VCs and college principals to provide free legal and immigration advice to their EU staff.

c)HESGE send a message of support to NUS and the European Students Union, defending Erasmus and stating Unison’s support for HE staff and students impacted by Brexit.

d)HESGE to produce a campaigns pack for all branches to use in their locality, with particular reference to devolved nations; to enable branch activists to negotiate with employers, lobby politicians and work with community and student groups and other campus unions to get the best deal for HE staff.