German academic exchange calls for clarity on future of EU staff and students

The head of a body representing academic institutions in Germany has said the UK’s exit from the EU may put academic collaborations at risk, and called on the UK government to ‘clarify matters’ on working conditions and residency of EU staff and students as soon as possible.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper last week, Margret Wintermantel, president of the German Academic Exchange Service, pointed out that 32,000 academics – approximately 17% of the workforce – at UK universities and institutions are from other EU countries, including 5200 from Germany.

Many of these face uncertainty over their future status, and are as a result are considering leaving the UK, she said. And some academics have been unwilling to accept posts in the UK because of the question mark over their future status.

‘After the US, Germany is the UK’s most important trading partner,’ she wrote. ‘But unless the right priorities are set now, the consequences of Britain’s vote to leave the EU could put this winning collaboration at risk.’

She also called on the UK government to guarantee that German students – which account for 11% of Britain’s student body and currently pay the same rate as domestic students – would not face an increase in UK university fees in future.