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Two thirds of students back referendum on final terms of Brexit deal

Sunday 2 April 2017

NUS sets out key education issues Theresa May’s deal will be judged against.

Two thirds of students in the UK (63%) believe there should be a referendum on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, according to a survey of 2685 students aged 16-24 published by NUS today.

In the immediate aftermath of the Government triggering Article 50, NUS has set out four key education priorities in the negotiations for students and the education sector, which any final deal should be judged against.

The UK’s Brexit deal must: 

  1. Ensure international students are welcome in the UK – a hard Brexit will continue the hostile approach to international students, who have become easy targets – both on campuses and through government policies. We believe urgent action is needed to show that international students are welcome. We also believe that international students must be removed from net migration figures if the government is genuine about creating the “truly global” Britain that they speak of.

  2. Provide urgent clarity for EU nationals – for academics who are EU nationals, there’s a lack of clarity about their continued employment and residence, it also affects students who are currently studying here. EU students are not bargaining chips. Students who are already here or who will begin courses in the UK before the UK has formally left the EU need urgent clarity about their status, and this should not be contingent on what the EU offers UK citizens.

  3. Maintain student mobility – Leaving the EU will threaten our continued participation in the Erasmus Plus programme and limits the transformational experience of studying and working abroad to those that can afford it. The Erasmus programme or alternative programmes like it should be a priority in negotiations. For Britain to develop a “truly global” approach we will need internationally literate graduates.

  4. Preserve UK-EU academic collaboration – a key priority for the Government in its negotiations must be to ensure years of academic collaboration on science and technology is not placed in jeopardy. 

NUS will continue to make the case for students directly to the government and parliament as the Brexit negotiations get underway.

Over the next month, the organisation is calling on students write to their MPs and MEPs on protecting the status of students coming to the UK; on prioritising student mobility in negotiations; and, on ensuring the quality of education we get in the UK is not put at risk. 

Malia Bouattia, NUS President, said

“NUS is committed to ensuring that students do not suffer as a result of the referendum result. NUS is unequivocal in our support of students, and others’, right to remain. I have made this crystal clear in our written evidence to the Education Select Committee on the impact of exiting the European Union on higher education.

“We are fighting to shape the terms on which Brexit takes place. This comes with a certain difficulty, because of the lack of clarity coming from Westminster, but it is our collective task as a movement to fight for better education, to fight for students, for migrants, and for all those who are faced with adverse circumstances. The way we rise to these challenges will shape the future of our sector and our society for years to come.”


Notes to editors

For further comment please contact NUS Press Office on or 07866 695 010.

The National Union of Students is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.

We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students. We promote, defend and extend the rights of students and develop and champion strong students’ unions.