THE VICE CHANCELLOR of Leeds University has said hundreds of its employees from the European Union needed clarity on their futures and warned it had become more difficult to recruit top academics from Europe since the Brexit result.
Sir Alan Langlands said the prospect of Brexit had created uncertainty for EU staff and students and people needed guarantees about their futures.
Leeds University has around 700 staff and more than 1,200 students from the EU. Around a sixth of its research income comes from the EU sources.
Sir Alan praised the Government for committing to ensure research projects backed by the EU are funded until 2020 and do not “drop off a cliff edge” when Brexit happens. And he welcomed the commitment that EU students who came into Leeds this year will have the same level of fees to pay throughout their course irrespective of Britain leaving the EU.
However he said both staff and universities now needed clarity on what EU university staff status would be after the country has left the union.
Sir Alan said it would be a huge issue for the higher education sector if Brexit meant universities having to lose EU staff but said he was confident common sense would prevail.
He said: “We have about 700 staff here from EU countries and just on a human level these people need to have answers about their future careers.” He said there had been a destabilising effect on people from the EU as a result of the Brexit vote but was not aware of anyone who had left as a result of it.
However he said that the university had missed out on recruiting some EU academics who had been poised to come to Leeds before the Brexit vote who have subsequently decided against the move in light of the referendum result.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We have been clear that while the UK remains a member of the EU, UK and EU students currently eligible to receive funding will continue to do so. We will continue to work closely with the sector on this important issue.”