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Brexit uncertainty: British Academy publishes 'risk list' of subjects

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With 500 days to go until the UK leaves the European Union, the British Academy has called for certainty surrounding the immigration status of EU academics after Brexit. Some regions of the UK risk losing significant talent, with up to half of some subjects’ staff from the EU.

In a report out today exploring Brexit’s impact on the humanities and social sciences, the British Academy has published a list of the subjects most at risk from uncertainty over immigration rules after Brexit. 36% of economists and 34% of those in modern languages come from EU countries other than the UK.

An even starker picture emerges regionally. A quarter of all academic staff in Northern Ireland are from the EU, the highest proportion in the UK. In the West Midlands, nearly half of modern languages staff are from EU countries.

The humanities and social sciences –-the focus of the British Academy— would be particularly affected by any potential change to immigration rules post-Brexit; six out of the top 10 subjects with the highest proportions of non-UK EU staff are in the humanities and social sciences.

In its report, Brexit means…? The British Academy's Priorities for the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Current Negotiations (out today - 14 November), the Academy argues that the UK’s position as a world-leader in research depends on its ability to attract the best international talent. It is therefore calling on the government to guarantee the right to remain and a continuation of the current rights of EU staff and their dependents working in UK.

In total almost 40,000 non-UK EU staff work in UK universities. EU nationals make up the greatest share of staff from outside the UK.

Foreign Secretary of the British Academy, Professor Ash Amin said:

“It is critical that the Government takes action and puts an end to this uncertainty. Today’s report depicts precisely what is at stake: the UK’s position as a world leader in higher education and research.

“That the UK attracts such a high proportion of staff from abroad is a testament to the competitiveness of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Many of the people from this talent pool will be asking themselves: do I see the future of my career in this country?

“We are calling on Government to guarantee a right to remain indefinitely for non-UK EU academics and their dependents working here.”

The British Academy has also published figures today showing how the academic workforce and student body in different disciplines draw on individuals from outside the UK.

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