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Universities UK to Push for Trade Agreements Post-Brexit

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

A report commissioned by Universities UK, has suggested the UK government must be willing to make political concessions to ensure higher education cooperation is maintained with other countries post-Brexit.

The report was put together by the UK Trade Policy Observatory and calls on government to prioritise higher education and research collaboration post-Brexit through free trade agreements (FTAs) with the EU.

The research argued: "The UK has strong interests in education services trade in both directions and must recognise that it will have to make concessions in order to win them."

It's suggested access to the UK for students and restrictions they have post-qualification, will most likely feature among the demands made by trade partners in exchange for including higher education and research cooperation in FTAs.

Although it's recognised the concessions will be politically difficult, the report argues the benefits outweigh what the UK stands to lose if cooperation falters.

Deputy chief executive at Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, said of the report: "The positive contribution of UK higher education to the UK economy and society will be greatest if British universities are magnets for international talent, are welcoming to international students and are leaders in international research collaboration."

It's hoped that a collaboration at a high level between countries, will mitigate some of the challenges the UK's higher education sector may face as its trade links shift.

Given the importance of FTAs for higher education collaboration, it's recommended the industry lobbies for the inclusion of both specific agreements and a broader commitment to collaboration, with scope to develop the agreements over time.