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Top universities write to Theresa May urging rethink on EU citizens offer

2 min read

The UK’s top universities have fired a warning to Theresa May over EU citizens’ rights, warning that the Government’s position is damaging their institutions.

In a document passed to the Independent, the Russell Group of universities urges ministers to scrap plans to make European nationals apply for “settled status” in the UK after Brexit.

The Government has published what it calls a “fair and serious offer”, including giving EU citizens who have been in the UK for five years automatic eligibility for settled status.

That was met with a cool reaction from Brussels, with European Council president Donald Tusk saying the offer was “below our expectations and risks worsening the situation for our citizens”.

The Russell Group says the Government’s stance has led to “a significant degree of uncertainty...concerning EU nationals’ rights and the process for acquiring them after the UK leaves the EU”.

They also attack the ‘settled status’ plan, saying: “Whilst this is the UK Government’s first position for the negotiations, this lack of clarity is causing considerable concern for EU nationals at our universities and impacting on our ability to recruit talented staff from the EU.”

Instead the universities urge ministers to automatically transfer those citizens who would be eligible for settled status, meaning they would not have to go through a new application process.

Jessica Cole, the head of policy for the Russell Group, said: “There are around 25,000 members of staff from other EU countries at Russell Group universities delivering high-quality teaching and cutting-edge research. We value our EU colleagues and want them to stay.

“There is no reason why individuals and families who have already secured permanent residency should not be granted the new settled status automatically.”

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