Since the result of the referendum there has been a great deal of discussion & speculation regarding the negotiations, guarantees & compromises which will emerge in the wake of triggering Article 50.

No doubt many of you will be following these developments with a keen eye, and possibly some concern, but I want to take this opportunity to inform you of the definitive assurances provided to the higher education sector by the Government in the last week, and also to set out the plans we are putting in place for ensuring everyone has access to accurate and up-to-date information over the next two years and beyond.

EU Nationals and student finance in England

Those EU students who are currently enrolled on a course at the University and are eligible to receive loans and grants from the Student Loans Company will continue to receive financial support for the duration of their course. The Student Loans Company confirmed that this will include loans to cover tuition fees (for those resident in the European Economic Area for three years), and loans and grants for maintenance (limited to students who have been resident in the UK for at least three years). For those EU nationals, or their family members, who have applied for a place at university from this August to study a course which attracts student support, the SLC will assess these applications against existing eligibility criteria, and will provide loans and/or grants in the normal way. EU nationals, or their family members, who are assessed as eligible to receive grants and/ or loans by the SLC will then be eligible for the duration of their study on that course.

EU staff and student residency status

There are no immediate changes to the residency statuses of those EU citizens currently residing in the UK or those UK citizens currently residing in the EU. This includes those studying or working at UK universities. There are no immediate changes to be made to the visa policies or residency statuses for prospective students or visitors.

Erasmus programmes

The European Commission issued a statement last week confirming that the UK is still considered a partner in the Erasmus programme until it is no longer officially a member of the European Union. This also applies to projects financed through the Erasmus+ programme.

Horizon2020 Research Funding

Access to, and the eligibility to apply for, Horizon 2020 funding also remains unchanged, and UK researchers and businesses can continue to apply to the programme as before.

Plans and action within the University

For current staff and students, we are developing an internal webpage which will provide authoritative information released by the Government and sector bodies, as well as initiatives being undertaken by the University to ensure our thriving international community is protected.

I very much appreciate that many of you will have specific concerns and questions, and you are welcome to submit questions to the Vice-Chancellor's Office via the internal website enquiry form. Although I cannot guarantee that we will be able to provide definitive answers at the point of writing, we will ensure that obtaining these answers remains a priority in our ongoing discussions with the Government, the EU Commission, and our wider HE colleagues.

Recently, I attended a University Alliance meeting with the Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, who wanted to strongly reassure the sector that the Government is aware of the challenges facing universities and their communities as a result of the outcome of the referendum. However, he reiterated the significant value that our EU students and staff add to the research community and wider society, and as a sector, through Universities UK and University Alliance, we are committed to ensuring that this message is widely communicated to Government, our students, staff and partners. Our EU students and staff make an immeasurable contribution to our University community, and every effort will be made to ensure that our vibrant international community is nurtured.

This meeting also confirmed that the Government still has the intention of pressing on with the Higher Education and Research Bill. For the University, as we enter the process of devising our new Strategic Plan 2017-2022, we very much remain committed to ensuring that this is an institution where all can thrive and meet their highest potential as a result of first-class teaching and an excellent student experience. Our determination to meet this objective remains, and will continue to remain, unchanged. Most importantly, our success in achieving this objective is contingent upon a thriving, international, and culturally dynamic staff and student community, and I expect this to resolutely flourish, and not diminish, as we face the challenges ahead.

Best wishes,

David