Message from Jacqui Marshall, Deputy Registrar and Director of People Services and Global Partnerships
The University welcomes the progress in the negotiations for Britain’s exit from the European Union announced this morning. The agreement regarding Citizens’ Rights provides firm guarantees that our EU staff and their families will continue to be able to live and work in the UK after Brexit.
Colleagues will be aware of our concern that the proposals submitted by the UK Government earlier this year, while positive in some respects, fell short of the safeguards we thought were necessary to protect the interests of staff from EU countries who have come to live and work in the UK. We have been working with the Russell Group and Universities UK to influence the UK Government’s position and we are pleased that the agreement announced today addresses these concerns.
- The ‘Specified date’ for citizens’ rights will be the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, rather than the earlier date when Article 50 was triggered. This later date ensures that new staff who join the University before the UK leaves the EU will be protected by the agreement.
- The commitment that the application system for EU citizens to obtain “settled status” will be smooth, streamlined and transparent, with 2 years after the date of withdrawal to submit applications.
- Colleagues who have already obtained a document confirming permanent residence in the UK will be able to have that document converted into the new “settled status” document free of charge, subject only to verification of identity, a criminality and security check and confirmation of ongoing residence.
- Recognising that the role and career path of academic colleagues in particular will often take them out of the UK for extended periods of time, the agreement helpfully sets a 5 year time limit (five consecutive years of absence) before acquired rights of permanent residency are lost. This will help ensure future academic collaboration with international partners is not undermined.
- The agreement also addresses concerns which have been expressed about the rights of children which will provide greater assurance for families.
There is also a clear recognition of the need to give citizens as much certainty as possible and an undertaking that domestic legislation will now be enacted to implement the agreement. We will be encouraging the Government to put the terms of the agreement on citizens’ rights into UK law as soon as possible.
We recognise that there will be further negotiations in the new year which must be concluded before a final agreement is signed but today’s developments are an indication of the willingness and ability of all parties to reach a positive outcome. We will continue to work with the Russell Group and UUK to ensure the interests of UK higher education are taken into account in these future negotiations and will keep you informed of developments.
We are also pleased to advise our staff from EU countries that when the application process for settled status opens next year (the UK Government has said it expects to the new system to be open from September 2018), the University will meet the cost of applications for settled status. We hope that this will reassure our EU colleagues that they can continue to develop their careers at the University of Exeter with confidence. Further information about the application process and the support the University will provide will be made available in 2018 once this is announced by the UK Government.
Deputy Registrar and Director of People Services and Global Partnerships
Information for colleagues who are citizens of EU/EEA countries is available at www.exeter.ac.uk/staff/employment/righttowork/informationforeueeastaff/.