As you will be aware, the Prime Minister has triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty today, Wednesday 29 March 2017. This will signify the formal start of the two-year negotiation for the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The vote to leave the European Union has understandably resulted in many questions from University staff and students about the possible ramifications for the higher education sector. Many of the questions about the implications of Brexit for higher education are difficult to answer, as they will depend on the outcome of the negotiations and what kind of relationship the UK agrees with the EU.
I recognise that this is a concerning time for EU national colleagues and families but would emphasise that the UK will remain in the EU for the next two years and there will be no immediate change for universities, staff or students.
On Friday 24 March, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney delivered reassuring news, guaranteeing that EU students enrolling for 2018/19 will receive free tuition for the duration of their degree. This means that eligible EU students will continue to have access to free tuition, including tuition fee support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland.
We welcome this clarification from the Scottish Government and would emphasise that Stirling is an international university that welcomes and values staff and students from across the EU and internationally, and will continue to do so. The richness of experience and mutual understanding of cultural differences provided by young people from across Europe, who live and learn together, is immeasurable. The strength of Stirling is its people and the contribution of staff from all over the world is crucial to our continued success and global outlook.
The University is here to support staff and students and has arranged for an immigration law specialist to visit campus, to deliver briefing sessions for our EU staff, on the implications of Brexit.
During the coming months, I will continue to work with the Scottish and UK governments to ensure that Stirling’s voice is heard in discussions and negotiations, in order to secure the best access and opportunities for our students and staff, and our research activities.
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor