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UK's top universities send list of demands to Theresa May

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The UK's top Russell Group universities have today published a list of ten demands that they say Theresa May must follow in order to protect the rights of EU citizens and prevent damage to the higher education system.

The Russell Group is an association of the UK's top 24 research-intensive universities, including major names such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and Manchester.

They say a "significant degree of uncertainty remains concerning EU nationals’ rights and the process for acquiring them after the UK leaves the EU" and "this lack of clarity is causing considerable concern for EU nationals at our universities and impacting on our ability to recruit talented staff from the EU.

"The contribution of EU nationals to the world-class research and teaching at our institutions is crucial. More broadly EU staff and students add to the diversity of our campuses and enrich the learning experience for all. We need to do everything we can to ensure these individuals feel valued and supported to stay in the UK."

The list of demands is as follows:

1. Academics and students often spend periods of time abroad for study, training, career development and research collaborations. Government should continue to support such endeavours by:

- Ensuring continuous residence is not impacted by periods spent abroad for study or research by applying the necessary exemptions to any rules (e.g. the 180 day rule).

- Adopting a broad interpretation of ‘strong ties’ to ensure students and academics that spend two years or more abroad do not lose their settled status once gained.

2. Government should develop an effective and efficient system for processing applications that places a minimum burden on applicants. If the Government does not have the systems it needs in place in time, the grace period must be extended accordingly.

3. We welcome that Government intends to use existing data it holds to minimise the evidence that applicants will need to submit. Where it is possible to identify those eligible for temporary leave or settled status from such data, the Home Office should automatically contact EU citizens to offer this status.

4. Those with Permanent Residence should be transferred automatically to settled status. There is no need to re-assess these individuals’ right to be in the UK.

5. Government’s intention for the cost of applications to be set at a reasonable level is welcome. It’s important this cost is minimal and no more than the cost of Permanent Residency (£65).

6. Government needs to support business and universities by developing clear employer guidance in consultation with a range of sectors employing EU nationals.

7. The cut-off date should be the date the UK leaves the EU. This will allow organisations and individuals to plan accordingly.

8. EU students starting courses in 2017/18 and 2018/19 are making a commitment to the UK. We urge Government to offer reassurance they will be able to stay and work here after their studies and be eligible for settled status after accruing five years residence.

9. Government should minimise uncertainty about the rights of families to stay together in the UK by providing clarity as soon as possible. We welcome that children born in the UK to EU nationals will be eligible to immediately acquire settled status or British citizenship, and ask Government to confirm such children will not need to accrue five years’ residency.

10. Government should ensure that professional qualifications obtained in either the UK or the EU before the UK’s withdrawal continue to be recognised across borders.

There are currently 61,000 EU nationals studying at Russell Group universities, and 24,800 European members of staff.

Jessica Cole, Head of Policy, said:

“Brexit is causing uncertainty and anxiety for EU staff, who need clarity over their future rights as soon as possible. There are around 25,000 members of staff from other EU countries at Russell Group universities delivering high-quality teaching and cutting-edge research. We value our EU colleagues and want them to stay.

“Universities and EU staff and students need to be able to plan for the future with confidence. We urge the Government to secure an agreement with the EU on citizens’ rights at the earliest possibility. We want to ensure that families will be able to stay together in the UK and that the system for processing applications will place minimal burdens on applicants at the lowest possible cost.There is no reason why individuals and families who have already secured Permanent Residency should not be granted the new ‘settled status’ automatically.”

"There is no reason why individuals and families who have already secured Permanent Residency should not be granted the new ‘settled status’ automatically.”

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