Scots universities' fears over no-deal immigration plans

The UK government's plans for an immigration policy to cover EU nationals if there is a no-deal Brexit "ignores" the future needs of Scotland's universities and students, Scottish ministers have warned.

Union Jack, Scottish flag and EU flag
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Read more about Brexit, education and immigration in the latest issue of Relocate magazineThe problem stems from the fact a majority of degree courses in Scotland last four years, rather than the three-year norm south of the border. But the UK government is proposing, in the event of a no-deal exit, citizens from the European Economic Area (EEA) - including students - would be covered by a European Temporary Leave to Remain, which will last only 36 months.

Three-year visa limit would put Scottish institutes at a competitive disadvantage

Scottish Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead and Migration Minister Ben Macpherson have now written to Caroline Nokes, the UK's migration minister, saying the three-limit would have "serious consequences for Scottish institutions, putting them at a competitive disadvantage with regards to undergraduate recruitment".The letter adds: "Due to the fact that the criteria for extension are yet to be published and the possibility of extension being refused, this policy, and the uncertainty it creates, is likely to discourage EU citizens applying to Scottish universities as there is no guarantee they will be able to complete courses.
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"However, the negative effects of this policy go much wider than Scotland. All EU students undertaking non-standard length courses will be seriously disadvantaged.
"This will include PhD and medical students, those studying part-time, female students who may have to go on maternity leave and many others who do not fit neatly into a three-year undergraduate degree model."It is also regrettable that, once again we were given minimal notice of the impending publication of this policy which, I'm sure you will agree, does not fulfil the UK government's public commitment to genuinely involve the devolved administrations in the Brexit process.

Scottish government: the UK government should immediately rule out a no-deal Brexit

"The Scottish government maintains that the UK government should immediately rule out no-deal and seek an extension to the Article 50 process."A government spokesman in London said: "Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government's top priority."Students from the EU make an important contribution to the universities sector and it is a testament to our system that so many students from around the world choose to study in the UK."If we do leave the EU without a deal, then students coming here from the European Economic Area or Switzerland who wish to stay in the UK for longer than 36 months, for example to complete a four-year course, can apply for an immigration status under the study routes of the new skills-based immigration system at the end of the period of temporary leave to remain."Alternatively, they will be able to apply under Tier 4 of the existing system for a student visa to cover the full length of their course."It is estimated almost 10 per cent of Scottish university students and more than a quarter of full-time research staff are EU nationals. Their importance to Scottish higher education was recently emphasised by Alastair Sim, director Universities Scotland.“The quality of the research and education Scottish higher education delivers is strengthened because of the partnerships we have across the European Union. These relationships are deeply important to us and that remains the case whatever the outcomes of the Brexit process,” he said.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online DirectorySubscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all of the international assignments and global mobility news.