Government Refuses to Disclose Brexit Impact on Universities

The Department for Exiting the EU are under pressure to release a report assessing the impact Brexit will have on different sectors of British economy, including Higher Education.

In response to a freedom of information request by Labour MP Seema Malhotra, the Brexit department stated “there is a strong public interest in policy-making associated with our exit from the EU being of the highest quality and conducted in a safe space to allow for design and deliberation to be done in private.”

Brexit poses several threats to British Universities, including a reduction in the number of overseas students, and the disruption of international academic cooperation.

The lack of transparency over the possible impacts of leaving the EU is essential to the British negotiating position, according to the government. However, the decision to withhold information that may allow universities to better plan for Brexit has been criticised by figures from opposition parties, such as Malhotra.

“The government’s reference to needing to conduct Brexit policy-making in a ‘safe place to allow for design and deliberation to be done in private’ seems to be more about keeping parliament and the public in the dark,” she said.

“Parliament is not here to give the government a blank cheque on Brexit, but to assist in achieving the best deal for our economy and society.”

Coming in the wake of the Universities Minister Jo Johnson’s demands for greater freedom of speech on campus and the curbing of ‘safe spaces’, the government’s insistence on a ‘safe space’ for the Brexit negotiations will no doubt be viewed as hypocritical. 

Ian White