Following our Brexit Meeting on Wednesday 10th May, we have sent the finalised Brexit letter below to the following General Election candidates requesting a response. We will publish responses here as they are received (please click on the candidates name if hyperlinked):
Candidates standing in Guildford:
- Anne Milton (Conservative Party)
- Howard Smith (Labour Party)
- Zöe Franklin (Liberal Democrats)
- Mark Bray-Parry (Green Party)
- John Morris (The Peace Party)
- Semi Essessi (Independent)
Candidates standing in Surrey South West:
- David Black (Labour Party)
- Jeremy Hunt (Conservative Party)
- Louise Irvine (National Health Action)
- Ollie Purkiss (Liberal Democrats)
- Mark Webber (UKIP)
26th May 2017
We are writing to you as a prospective Member of Parliament for the Guildford constituency. In this letter, we would like to express a consensus regarding the impact of Brexit on higher education. We ask you to join us in supporting your local university, the University of Surrey, in protecting freedom of movement for both students and staff. We ask you to campaign for the right to remain for those working or studying in the higher education sector.
Currently, official net migration figures include international students. This inflates the apparent number of immigrants, thereby stoking the anti-migrant atmosphere that has emerged in the current political climate.
Our international students make substantial contributions to our University, such as the diversity they inject into the teaching and learning environment we have on campus.
The surveillance of international students to ensure visa-compliance has been delegated to University staff. In addition to its troublingly xenophobic implications, such immigration policing diverts valuable time and attention away from providing education. A candidate who is forthcoming in, not just refraining, but actively challenging xenophobic rhetoric would unquestionably win favour with the thousands of people we represent.
To protect the interests of those students who have come to the University from elsewhere in the EU, we advocate guaranteed, home-rate tuition fees and a reciprocal open approach, including visa-free access.
There have been reports of universities losing academic expertise in the wake of Brexit. While affected by consequences of the UK parliament, EU Nationals are not permitted the franchise. With neither the franchise nor the guaranteed right to stay, it is easy to understand why many feel uncomfortable working and studying in Britain.
International expertise at Surrey allows students to learn from the best in their fields, while exposure to a diverse body of students allows staff members and postgraduate teaching assistants to hone their communicative skills and introduces them to different perspectives on their taught subjects.
As well as ensuring that the University continues to benefit from international talent, it is imperative that the University remains able to secure research funding in the absence of the research programmes we enjoy because of existing EU sources. Such EU programmes as Erasmus+ provide financial support for our students and staff to study, train, work, or volunteer abroad.
A decline in EU teaching staff is especially concerning in light of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) being introduced by the Government. This is because such a decline will almost certainly lead to further reliance upon casualised contracts. Given how far teaching workloads exceed any basic hourly metric, any increase in such insecure employment conditions would place even greater strain upon academic staff, to the detriment of teaching, research, and studying alike.
Lastly, both domestic and international workers at the University should retain the current levels of protection they enjoy under EU law, such as those relating to working time, parental leave, and health and safety.
We therefore ask you to reply and add your support to the following seven propositions:
- The removal of international students from official net migration figures.
- The guaranteed continuation of home-rate tuition fees and visa-free access for EU students as part of a reciprocal agreement.
- The guaranteed right to stay for EU staff and students who currently reside or study in the UK, with freedom of movement unrestricted for those who come to work or study from the EU.
- Extending the franchise to EU nationals residing in Britain to vote in National Elections.
- The securing of alternative sources of university funding other than raised tuition fees.
- The continued support of Erasmus+ and other EU research funding.
- The continued protection of the employment rights currently provided by EU law.
Please be advised that your reply will be publicised alongside those from the other election candidates. We ask you to kindly respond by the 2nd June 2017 in order for us to circulate candidate responses.
Surrey UCU Committee
Surrey Unite Committee
Surrey Unison Committee