The UK Parliament will this week vote on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The RSE has been clear on the need to ensure that the UK achieves the closest possible research relationship with the EU. The EU Framework Programmes for research and innovation have been crucial to strengthening the UK’s research base, with Scotland attracting most funding per head of population across the UK nations from Horizon 2020. In order to maintain its internationally leading research position and competitiveness, it will be crucially important that the UK is able to attract global talent. A proportionate and flexible immigration system, which takes account of the distinctive needs of the devolved nations, is required. The UK Government has proposed that in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it will introduce a three-year visa for EU nationals coming to work and study in the UK. However, the European Temporary Leave to Remain scheme will have a disproportionately negative impact on Scotland since our undergraduate degree programmes normally last four years. The scheme will also impact longer courses, including medicine, dentistry and veterinary degrees. If this scheme is required, this issue must be addressed, before its introduction, to provide certainty that EU citizens can continue to study at Scottish universities.

RSE President, Dame Professor Anne Glover said:

Higher education in Scotland and the UK has benefitted immensely through the contribution of staff and students from the EU. Whatever the outcome of this week’s votes, it is critical that we can continue to attract global talent and provide certainty for EU citizens currently working and studying in the UK”.