Wednesday saw the first of a series of open meeting for EU and non-EU staff and students to discuss the consequences and impact of Brexit. The meeting, hosted by UCU president Tim Goodall and Work and Employment expert Gabriella Alberti, tackled the pressing questions of employment, residency and citizenship for EU staff post-Brexit. The aim is to decide what should be asked of the University in terms of support and protection of their EU staff members.
Following the referendum in June, the UK is now set to leave the EU in 2019.
With rises in hate crime since the referendum earlier this year, attendees at the meeting shared their personal experiences on campus and around Leeds. Tim Goodall cited the case of recent racist graffiti in toilets on campus. One member of staff witnessed union workers being abused by a passing member of public: “They shouted ‘you should be speaking English’ at builders, and told them to ‘go back to their own country.”
Alberti called for the University to be more transparent in its policies, wanting to know “what the university commits to do”, and that the University should provide “immigration support” for foreign staff.
“For example banking. These things can be very complicated and it would good if the University can provide support.”
The meeting then turned to discussing a request for amnesty for all foreign students and staff who have lived and worked at the University for five years to be exempt from impending changes to residency and work visa laws. “New laws should not take effect retroactively.”
Uncertainty is what defined the debate as most discussions revolved around government or university decisions that have not yet been confirmed. As Tim Goodall stated: “there are so many questions at the moment.” Alberti added:
“There are members of staff who have been in the UK for 15-20 years who are all of a sudden concerned about keeping their jobs.”
Staff and students are encouraged to attend the next meeting with any concerns they have.
(Image: The Guardian)