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Oxford University Academics Set to Leave the UK

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Reports from Oxford University colleges suggest that academics are already planning to leave the UK in the face of uncertainty on their rights after Brexit.

The heads of 35 colleges have warned that the institution will suffer "enormous damage" if European Union staff lose their right to work in Britain.

As a result, they had urged the government to back a House of Lords amendment to the Brexit bill which guarantees protections for EU nationals living in the UK.

However, late on Monday peers back down over the issues of EU residency rights and a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal after their objections were overturned by MPs. In the end the House of Lords agreed not to reinsert guarantees over the status of EU residents in the UK into the bill, with government winning the vote by a margin of 274 votes to 135.

A letter signed by all but three Oxford college heads had stated that the governments previous promises had not provided the reassurance they were after.

In the letter it said: "Oxford University relies on EU citizens as lectures, researchers and support staff. If they lost their right to work here our university would suffer enormous damage, which given our role in research, would have reverberations across the UK.

"Our EU colleagues are not reassured by a government which tells them that deportation is not going to happen but declines to convert that assurance into law, some are worried, some are already making plans to leave.

"Many of our staff don't know whether absences abroad on research contracts will count against them. Others do not know, however longstanding their work and residence, whether their children will be able to remain in the UK."

In 2015-16 almost a fifth of UK academics were from the EU, highlighting the potential scale of the issue for universities.