The University and Europe


Information for staff who are EU citizens and staff who work on EU-funded Horizon 2020 projects.

What does the result mean for staff who are EU citizens?

We value hugely the contribution made by our EU staff. While there will be no immediate impact on colleagues who are EU nationals, we recognise that this period of uncertainty will be stressful for them and their families. The University is wholly committed to supporting our EU staff and we will be working over the coming weeks and months to establish the facts and to share these with our EU staff.

The important point is that things will not change overnight; the UK government will first need to give notice that the UK wishes to leave the EU, triggering a default period of two years for discussion and negotiation over the terms of exit.

Future opportunities for EU staff to work in Scotland / the UK will depend crucially on the terms of the outcome of those negotiations and any changes to government immigration law. It is possible that a points based system (as currently exists for non–EEA citizens) will apply and it is also possible that people already living and working in the country will be treated differently than those wanting to come to the UK.

We will be working closely with other Universities across the sector to feed into government decision making affecting the rights of our existing and potential future staff.

The UK Government has a webpage with the latest information about the status of EU nationals in the UK. This webpage will be regularly updated as negotiations progress, and you can also sign up for email alerts.

What does the result mean for staff working on EU-funded Horizon 2020 projects?

Colleagues should continue to apply for EU H2020 proposals (including to ERC, Marie Sklodowska-Curie etc), and grant-holders should continue with their projects as normal. The UK’s status as a full participating member of the Horizon 2020 Programme has not changed as a result of the referendum. Existing projects and grants will be honoured unless or until advised otherwise.

Professor Jonathan Seckl, Vice-Principal Planning, Resources and Research Policy has been sending emails to all research staff.

Read Professor Seckl's update to research staff on 27 February 2019. This includes procedures for EU grants as Brexit approaches under the two scenarios of: Brexit under the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ or a no-deal Brexit. 

Universities UK and the Russell Group are liaising with the UK Research Office and the European Commission. Detailed advice on prospective and currently negotiated projects will be circulated as soon as possible.

The University's participation in European partnerships that are not part of EU institutions will not be affected.

Research Councils UK statement on international collaboration

At a visit to the University of Edinburgh on 21 July 2016, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Shirley-Anne Somerville made clear that Scotland would remain an active partner in international research programmes and continue to benefit from EU and international funding based on the research excellence that exists across our Universities.

Scottish Government and Universities Scotland joint statement

On 13 August 2016 Chancellor Philip Hammond guaranteed EU funding beyond the date the UK leaves the EU. This means that British universities will have certainty over future funding and should continue to bid for competitive EU funds, including Horizon 2020 projects, while the UK remains a member of the EU. The Russell Group has welcomed this announcement in light of the considerable uncertainty around the status of funding for projects continuing after the UK leaves the EU. LERU hopes that this will encourage UK researchers to continue to apply for Horizon 2020 funding and should help to reassure European partners that the inclusion of UK academics in Horizon 2020 projects is not a risk.

UK Government statement | Scientists for EU response | David Gauke MP letter to David Davis MP

On 8 October 2017 the European Commission published a clarification for British participants in EU funded projects post Brexit, which reaffirms what we already know. The UK retains eligibility to fully participate and receive funding from the Horizon 2020 research programme while the UK remains a member of the EU. Colleagues should continue to apply for, and agree to become partners in, EU H2020 proposals. Our post-Brexit engagement will depend on the outcome of the UK/EU negotiations, but the government has discussed the importance of continued research collaboration with the EU and Chancellor Philip Hammond guaranteed funding of existing projects beyond the date the UK leaves the EU to ensure we can continue to participate.

Research Support Office blog: European Commission clarification on UK Applicants to Horizon 2020 - 12 October 2017 (EASE login required)

How is the University responding to the EU referendum decision?

The University’s Court has established a sub-group to have oversight of the University’s strategic response to the EU referendum. This group comprises a number of members of Court and senior University managers including the Principal, Senior Vice-Principal and the University Secretary.

The University is also working closely with key sector bodies such as the Russell Group, Universities UK and Universities Scotland who will be leading discussions on a number of areas with the UK and Scottish governments.

Legal advice and support for EU staff (May 2017)

The University is providing additional support for staff from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland (and any other member of staff with an EEA or Swiss partner and/or dependants), over the coming months:

Full details of the legal advice and support for staff

Videos, slides and FAQs with advice from external lawyers (EASE login required)

Scottish Government events for EU nationals

The Scottish Government hosted a roundtable event on 21 June 2017 for EU nationals living or working in Scotland, to hear your experiences and concerns about the impact of Brexit on the rights of EU nationals in Scotland.

On 17 August 2016 First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Cabinet held a public question and answer session to meet EU nationals living, working and studying in Scotland. The streamed event can be viewed on YouTube.

Frequently Asked Questions

Information is now available which we will continue to update regularly.

EU research funding FAQs for research staff (27 February 2019)

Brexit planning FAQs for staff (17 April 2019)

Brexit planning FAQs for managers (7 May 2019)

Erasmus+ FAQs for students and staff (26 April 2019)

Download the FAQs (updated 27 January 2017)

Further communications

A series of open meetings have been held where staff have had the chance to hear from senior management about how the University will be responding to the referendum decision.

Download the staff presentations given by Senior Vice-Principal, Professor Charlie Jeffery, and University Secretary, Sarah Smith, in July and September/October 2016.

Staff presentations (secured) (EASE login required)