Dozens of EU uni staff quit Edinburgh after Brexit vote

Edinburgh University ranks third in the UK for loss of European Union (EU) staff in the past year, a study has found.

Tuesday, 6th June 2017, 9:04 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th June 2017, 2:36 pm
Edinburgh University ranks third in the UK for loss of EU staff in the past year. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh University ranks third in the UK for loss of EU staff in the past year. Picture: Ian Georgeson

More than 1300 EU academics have left British universities in 2016-17, a rise of 30 per cent compared to 2014-15, a study by the Liberal Democrats has found.

Edinburgh University had the third-highest loss of EU staff of all UK universities with 96 in the past year, up from 76 the previous year and 62 in 2014-15, according to figures accessed through Freedom of Information.

Cambridge topped the table for universities which provided data for all three years, with 184 EU academics leaving in 2016-17, up from 178 the previous year.

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The University of Westminster was second, with 120 EU staff quitting in the past year, up from 87 in 2015-16.

Elsewhere in Scotland, a total of 51 EU academics have left St Andrews University in 2016-17 while Dundee University has lost 24 of these staff members.

Liberal Democrat Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The surge in academics from Europe leaving our universities since Brexit is an alarming trend.

“Our universities thrive when they can be open to the talent from Europe and around the world.

“Students and staff in Scotland are living with uncertainty hanging over their future.

“Theresa May must bear responsibility for her stubborn refusal to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living here.”

The impact of Brexit has already started to bite with the number of EU students choosing to study at university falling.

Figures released by university admissions body Ucas in February showed that applications made by EU students in the wake of Brexit had dropped by 5 per cent within a year.

Numbers fell from 44,430 to 42,250 between 2016 and 2017, bucking the upward trend of six consecutive years of increased applications.

In March, the Scottish Government’s decision to allow EU students who were due to start courses at Scottish universities in 2018 to complete their studies without paying tuition fees was widely welcomed at Holyrood.

This was supported by the UK government in April when it made similar guarantees for EU students on undergraduate and master’s courses in England.

Senior leaders from Russell Group universities – which includes Edinburgh – have now urged the EU and UK leaders to make research, innovation and higher education priorities following recent meetings with top EU officials.