Principal reassures students and advises on EU relations

anton-muscatelli-00324

Rhys Harper & Katy Scott
News Editors

The Principal of the University of Glasgow, Anton Muscatelli, has sought to reassure students from the European Union that their status is not at risk following June’s referendum decision to leave the EU.

In a statement released to staff and students, Professor Muscatelli pointed to the “extent to which [the University] value the contribution of our staff and students from the EU to the University, and how much we appreciate the vital part you play in our community.”

He commented, “One month on, although there remain many questions to be addressed, I want to reinforce my assurances that there will be no immediate impact or change in the immigration status of current and prospective students and staff from the EU.

“The UK government recently released a statement confirming that there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum. Further, they have confirmed that when the UK does leave the EU it is fully expected that the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK will be properly protected.

“EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 5 years automatically have a permanent right to reside and there is no requirement to register for documentation to confirm this status. EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully for at least 6 years are eligible to apply for British citizenship. EU nationals do not need to register for any documentation in order to enjoy their free movement rights and responsibilities. For those who decide to apply for a registration certificate, there has been no change to government policy or processes. Similarly, the process for non-EU or extended family members remain unchanged.

“The government recognises and values the important contribution made by EU and other non-UK citizens who work, study and live in the UK.”

Meanwhile the head of the Erasmus exchange programme which allows for exchange terms between European universities says its future cannot be guaranteed beyond 2017. UK Director Ruth Sinclair-Jones said: “We face a sad moment of uncertainty, after 30 years of this enrichment of so many lives”.

Official figures show 460 Erasmus students attended the University of Glasgow last year. The University of Glasgow has confirmed that the scheme will continue in 2017 but the status of Erasmus beyond then remains unknown, stating: “The University of Glasgow will fully participate in the Erasmus Scheme in 2016/17 and until further notice.”

Professor Muscatelli has previously voiced support for remaining in the EU and detailed how it benefits Scottish universities. He will be guiding the Scottish Government on mitigating the effects of the referendum as the chair of Standing Council on Europe. The council consists of 18 experts in legal, financial, business and diplomatic matters who will advise the Scottish Government on protecting Scotland’s relationship with the EU.

Sturgeon formed the council in response to the EU referendum result, citing the 62% remain vote in Scotland as evidence that the majority of Scots support continued European Union relations. The First Minister said, “The Scottish Government’s overriding objective is to protect Scotland’s relationship with, and place in the European Union. The Standing Council on Europe will provide advice on how best to achieve those objectives.

“Members will consider the impact of proposed changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU on Scottish interests and advise Ministers throughout our negotiations on the best way to secure Scottish interests and objectives.”

In July, the Standing Council held their first meeting. Professor Muscatelli said the council would be considering “a range of scenarios” as the outcome of the referendum. He commented, “I think our purpose is to be as wide ranging as possible, to provide very high level advice. We have a fantastic group of experts around the table – financial, legal, diplomatic, constitutional – so that we can actually provide best advice in a variety of different spheres.”