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17 Sep 2018

Russell Group proposes European Skills Permit to attract European talent after Brexit

The Russell Group of 24 leading UK universities has launched a call on the British government to introduce a new European Skills Permit for qualified workers and students to protect the ability of the United Kingdom (UK) to attract European talent after Brexit, and help rebuild public confidence in the immigration system.

Freedom of movement for European Economic Area (EEA) migrants will end when the Brexit transition period concludes in December 2020. From then on, new immigration arrangements will be needed for EEA migrants. The Russell Group points out that UK firms are already struggling to meet their recruitment needs, as there has already been a steep drop in European migration. At Russell Group universities EEA migrants account for around a quarter of academics, and tens of thousands of students from the EEA study at these UK universities each year.

The Russell Group therefore proposes a new European Skills Permit, aiming to support businesses as much as universities in the UK. The Permit would be available to qualified workers able to demonstrate a job offer or bring a research grant to the UK, and to students with a place at an accredited institution. Successful applicants would have the right to work or study in the UK for up to five years. While the Permit is aimed at migrants who are skilled or studying, the Russell Group points out that it could sit alongside any route introduced by the Government for lower skilled work in areas where employers face clear shortages.

All successful applicants would need to prove their identity, EEA nationality and pass standard Government criminality checks, and would be registered. The Russell Group states that appropriate and enforceable safeguards would be needed to ensure permit holders are suitably qualified, are genuinely working or studying and do not stay longer than they are permitted. The Group points out that recent exit checks data released by the UK government confirms that 97% of skilled workers and students requiring visas comply with their terms and depart the UK on time.

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Russell Group Proposal for a European Skills Permit

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