In January 2017, we published a report in collaboration with UHR on the Talent Challenge in a post-Brexit world. With the countdown to March 2019 looming, we revisit this report and reflect on the challenges, universities face in light of a deal or no deal Brexit.
In 2017 we asked what does Brexit mean for universities? We knew that change would follow for our society and our economy including the freedom of movement into and out of the UK. What we didn’t know then was that more than 2,300 EU academics would resign from UK universities as a result of Brexit (Independent, January 2018), with the number likely to have risen further in recent months. We speculated that applications to UK institutions from EU students would be affected by the referendum result, but a dip of 4.4% in 2017 was the stark reality.
The prospect of a no deal Brexit is now a distinct possibility. Despite reassurances from the government, we have to prepare for the worst. Without a deal, EU staff and students could be left in the lurch, with visa applications skyrocketing. EU-funded research and innovation schemes would cease, leaving ground breaking projects in limbo. With many UK universities preparing to draft their strategic plans for 2020 and beyond, based on world-class research and global recruitment strategies, Brexit puts a real spanner in the works. How will it affect international perception of the UK as a place to live, work and study? Are we still open for business? How ready will universities be to respond to changing markets and trends? Will they have the right leadership in place to steer the course?
The insight gathered in this report, seems even more relevant now as March 2019 draws closer. We hope that as an influential voice within your own university you will recognise and relate to what we’ve heard from your peers and that you find the questions this paper raises thought provoking.