We value the huge contribution to academic life at Goldsmiths made by our staff who are citizens of other EU countries and believe that higher education is all the stronger for the presence of EU nationals in this country. Goldsmiths has benefited from the experience of people who came to the UK precisely because they saw it as a welcoming place for minorities as a home for progressive, creative and critical research. London has long been a hub for diverse populations, including LGBTQ people from across the EU and Goldsmiths’ staff and student body is representative of these migrant populations.
However, the uncertainty following the EU referendum places staff who are EU nationals but who do not currently have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK in a specifically vulnerable position. We are aware that many members of staff in this position are feeling very anxious. Some may choose to look for employment elsewhere while others may find themselves having to apply for the right to continue working while at Goldsmiths.
Meanwhile, new rules for permanent residency in the UK privilege a conventional employment history and personal circumstances that potentially discriminates against those who have had more precarious working lives and comes from less traditional backgrounds. As an institution that specializes in the creative industries, Goldsmiths could be particularly affected by the rigid imposition of such rules.
The legal position is extremely unclear. The government has not yet guaranteed that once negotiations concluded, EU citizens residing in the UK will be permitted to stay. However, during the referendum campaign, both official Leave campaigns pledged that such citizens would “automatically” be given this right, i.e. be given ILR.
This uncertainty in residency status following the referendum helps no one. We believe that the government needs to guarantee the right to remain in the UK to those EU citizens living and working in the UK.
For politicians, there are good grounds for acceding to this call. The UK can ill afford to lose EU workers. Processing three million individual ILR applications is not feasible in the timescale available. Making this pledge would reduce the threat of a reciprocal deportation of 1.3 million British people from Europe. Finally, in the current febrile atmosphere, it would represent a clear line against those who would wish to blame migration for economic ills.
We call on HEFCE to lobby vigorously and immediately for the government to clarify the situation and to confirm that EU nationals working in the UK will be given indefinite right to remain.