The Russell Group has outlined ten positions it believes need to be adopted by the UK government to “add to the diversity of our campuses and enrich the learning experience for all.” This proposal comes on the heels of the UK Government’s recent policy paper “Safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU.” The Russell Group argues that the government’s policy paper did little to assuage the concerns of the group members, especially EU nationals currently working and studying at the universities, as well as their ability to recruit talent from EU countries. The Russell Group has issued their response to draw attention to ten areas of particular concern to universities that remain to be addressed by the UK government regarding Brexit.
The proposal recognizes scholars and students who may spend time abroad for study, training, career development, and research collaborations. The Russell Group has asked the UK government to continue to support such endeavors by ensuring that continuous residence is not impacted by time spent abroad for research or study. Additionally, it hopes the government will adopt a broad interpretation of “strong ties” so that students and academics who spend two or more years abroad do not lose their UK residency.
The Russell Group has also asked that the government develop a system for processing applications that places a minimum burden on the applicants. They believe doing so will help create an effective and efficient system, and if such a system is not in place in time, then the group wants assurances that grace periods will be appropriately extended.
The proposal also praises the UK government for outlining in its policy paper that the government intends to use existing data on file to minimize the amount of information that applicants will have to submit. However, the Russell Group adds that the Home Office should automatically contact EU citizens to offer residency status, rather than wait for EU citizens to contact the government.
The Russell Group also hopes those with permanent residence will automatically be transferred to settled status rather than being required to re-apply. For new applicants seeking residency, the group has asked the government to keep the application fee as minimal as possible. They want government to ensure that EU students beginning courses in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 will be allowed to live and work in the UK after completing their studies and apply for residency. Finally, the Russell Group has asked that the government ensure that professional qualifications obtained in the UK or EU before Brexit continue to be recognized across borders.