From the likely election of Boris Johnson as the new leader of the Conservative Party to the growing resentment of EU members towards the UK’s negotiating position, it appears as though a no-deal Brexit is now closer than ever before.
Whilst many of the warnings surrounding a no-deal Brexit have been disregarded as being part of ‘Project Fear’, there’s no doubt that such an unruly exit could damage the economy and set some industries back years.
Take the UK’s education system, for example, which is likely to be one of the hardest hit by a no-deal Brexit.
How will a No-Deal Brexit Impact on the Freedom of Movement in the UK?
One of the biggest challenges will be posed by an end to the freedom of movement, which currently allows students, teachers and researchers from the EU to relocate easily to the UK.
As of January last year, there were almost 147,000 EU students pursuing a higher education qualification in the UK, contributing a whopping £5.1 billion to the economy and supporting up to 20,000 jobs.
The so-called freedom of movement was one of the four freedoms enshrined under EU law, along with the movement of goods, services and capital. It was also the main bone of contention amongst Leave voters prior to the 2016 referendum, although emphasis was rarely placed on the benefits of immigration from the EU.
In the event of a no-deal, the rights of EU nationals residing in the UK will be unprotected in the short term, meaning that their quality of life could be impacted and they would have no automatic right to readmission should they choose to leave.
Overturning freedom of movement works both ways. Upon leaving the EU, British citizens are set to become ‘third country nationals’, meaning there’s no automatic right to readmission.
It’s unlikely that Britons will be required to have full visas to traverse EU borders, but there’s a strong likelihood that they will have to complete an online registration form before travelling and pay a €7 travel authorisation fee upon arrival.
Are There any Positives to Brexit for the Educational Sector?
As we’ve already said, the issue of freedom of movement will also impact on teaching and support staff, meaning that the UK may no longer be able to rely on leading talent being imported from the EU.
Teachers will be particularly impacted by the status of bilateral double taxation, which most EU member states currently have in place.
This dictates that the tax paid in the country of work is offset by levies owed in the country of residence, but its terms require cooperation between the EU and the UK. If this issue isn’t resolved through a formal withdrawal agreement, many EU nationals may be compelled to relocate to another member state.
This could also impact the availability of modern language courses in the UK going forward, and there’s no doubt that Brexit could impact negatively on the education of the next generation.
The Last Word
For now, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit remains, and whilst a no-deal seems increasingly likely, it’s hard to determine precisely how this will impact the UK’s educational sector.
If you’re likely to be affected by Brexit, it’s important that you consult with immigration experts such as Withers Worldwide to understand your position with greater clarity.
Even though Brexit currently remains the great unknown, you should gain at least some understanding into your likely rights as an EU resident in the worst-case scenario.