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UK’s departure from European Union: an update from Brexit Working Group

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The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union (EU) single market and customs union on 31 December 2020.

From 1 January 2021, there will be new rules for citizens, businesses as well as travel to and from the EU. The UK Transition website provides up to date information and advice related to travelling to the EU, living and working in the EU and staying in the UK if you are an EU citizen.

A Brexit Working Group at the University - led by Chief Financial Officer Samantha Foley - is coordinating our preparation for this transition.

We will continue to keep you informed on our preparations and the current advice and guidance. Colleagues may find the update below useful:

  • Living and working in the UK - From 1 January 2021, all EU citizens wanting to live and work in the UK will require a visa.  A new UK points-based immigration system is being introduced, which includes a new Skilled Worker Visa, to replace the existing Tier 2 visa for non-EU international colleagues. Our HR colleagues are in the process of updating relevant policies and procedures as more information is released. 
  • EU Settled Status - If you are an EU citizen who has not applied for a settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you should consider doing so in line with your personal circumstances. The deadline for applications under this scheme will be 30 June 2021.
  • International travel to EU - Although international business is currently curtailed due to COVID, colleagues planning any business or personal travel around 31 December 2020, should ensure they consider the additional impact that Brexit may have on their existing plans.
    • Additional advice related to COVID-19. Under the four-week lockdown that comes into force on Thursday 5 November, the government guidance says you should avoid travelling in and out of your local area, and generally reduce the number of journeys you make. If you are an EU or other international student, and would be travelling overseas, please seek advice from the International Student Advisory team before making travel plans about any impact this may have on your ability to return. 
  • Existing students - Students currently on placement in EU countries (or soon to do so) may be inconvenienced by changes in immigration status, access to health care, etc.  These changes will vary from country to country. We are writing to these students and encouraging them to take advice from the receiving university or employer.

EU students currently studying in Reading may be inconvenienced by changes in immigration status, access to health care, etc. We will write to them to see that they are properly advised and have access to relevant government web pages. Students who plan to come to Reading in the spring term will need a visa, and will not have the opportunity to apply for settled status, if they arrive after 31 December.

  • Students considering studying with us - The UK government had announced, on 23 June 2020, that EU students (with the exception of the Republic of Ireland) will no longer be eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK student rate - after the transition period. Following work with the Fees sub-group, the University has set tuition fee rates for EU students commencing a new programme of study at the International rate with effect from the 2021/22 academic year.  EU applicants for Postgraduate Taught programmes, in common with all other international applicants, will now need to pay a deposit (or provide a letter of financial sponsorship) to accept their offer. Students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021, may still be entitled to pay fees at the UK student rate if they have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Non-Eire EU students similarly lose access to the government tuition fee loan scheme. EU students seeking admission from 2021/22 onwards will, however, be able to apply for International Master's scholarships funded by the University.

  • Supply of goods and services to the University - We have been preparing for the impact of transition on the supply of goods and services. Our Procurement colleagues have been working with a number of suppliers on potential risks in the supply chain and reviewing contingency plans. We continue to receive updates and preparation plans from business-critical suppliers and are communicating with our stakeholders. It is possible that we may need to work with new suppliers, new products and may see challenges in the supply chain and price increases. We do not have all the information we need but will continue to monitor the procurement related regulations.

We have also been working over a number of months to put in place contractual terms which will reduce the risk of pricing changes or delivery problems arising from Brexit, particularly in the event of a no deal scenario.

  • Data protection - We are considering what the change means for the transfer of personal data into and out of the EU. How this will be managed in the future depends on whether the UK is awarded "adequacy" status (meaning it has suitable data protection arrangements in place).
  • Current EU Horizon 2020 grants - the UK signed the Withdrawal Agreement back in January 2020 which means that funding is guaranteed for all currently running Horizon 2020 projects (including projects starting after 1 January 2021).
  • Future EU research programmes - The next framework programme - Horizon Europe - is expected to launch on 1 January 2021, with the first Calls for Proposals to be published between January and March 2021. The extent to which the UK can participate is largely dependent on the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations. However, regardless of this, organisations based in the UK will be able to participate in those parts of the programme that will be ‘open to the world'. It's the UK Government's stated aim that UK organisations continue to participate in EU collaborative projects open to third countries. Therefore, UK partners can and should explore Horizon Europe collaborative funding opportunities and continue to network to make the most of the upcoming EU calls. Further information can be found on the RES EU webpages.

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