Brexit, Article 50 and the EU Referendum

Advice about the EU referendum result

Following the triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (EU), the UK and the EU have two years to negotiate arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal. The expectation is for the UK to remain a full member of the EU during this time. Many of you will have strong feelings about the decision to leave the EU and deep concerns about what it will mean for the future of our continent, our country and our University.

Our University is a community of international scholarship which includes many citizens of other EU countries. We know our staff and students will have many questions about what this will mean for them personally, as will all those who are directly involved in work dependent on EU collaboration and funding.

On this page we will answer the most commonly asked questions about the impact the decision to leave the EU will have on our University, staff and students. This information will be updated as and when we know more during the negotiation period.

Got a question? Email us at: eu@sheffield.ac.uk

General FAQS

The UK has triggered Article 50 – what will happen now?

There will not be any immediate change to:

  • the immigration status of current and prospective non-UK EU students and staff
  • the fees charged to non-UK EU students, or their access to UK Government funded loans
  • the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+
  • There will be a two-year negotiation process between the UK and the European Union (transition period), during which time the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union will be decided.

What is the University's statement on the triggering of Article 50?

As you will know the Government plans to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (EU) today giving the European Council formal notification that the UK wishes to exercise its right to withdraw from the EU. The triggering of Article 50 means that the UK and EU have two years to negotiate a withdrawal agreement and the expectation is for the UK to remain a full member of the EU during this time.

Although the triggering of Article 50 changes little in the immediate term, since the vote to leave the EU many of us have had questions about what it will mean for our University, for ourselves and for colleagues. Answers to the most commonly asked questions can be found on this advice page, and this information will be updated as and when we know more during the negotiation period.

You can also email any questions you have to: eu@sheffield.ac.uk

It is important to reiterate that UK researchers remain eligible to apply for Horizon 2020 and other EU funding schemes throughout the period of the negotiations and that there will be funding mechanisms for collaborative research with EU partners post-Brexit. It is therefore important that we maintain, strengthen and grow the volume of our EU research and our relationships with EU partners so that we are in a strong position to access funding for our research via new schemes whatever future form they take.

We are also making updates to our EU news page with analysis, comments and blogs from experts across the University,  as well as publishing stories from our non-UK EU colleagues and others sharing their experiences from within the University.

We know that our non-UK EU colleagues will have specific questions about the impact of the UK leaving the EU and we are reviewing the immigration support we provide. Details of this support have been shared with relevant colleagues.

Thank you for helping us remain a truly international university that offers a place of welcome to staff and students from across the world.


What was the University's official statement on the EU referendum vote?

We are carefully considering the implications of the result of the EU referendum to the University and to our staff and students. Our University is a Top 100 University globally and home to staff and students from around the world, including many from other EU nations. Scholars from these countries are central to the teaching of students and research in everything from medicine and science to engineering, social sciences and the arts and humanities.

Naturally, a vote to leave the EU raises many important questions that require urgent answers – for universities, staff, students, prospective students, our research partners and other stakeholders. We will be working closely with other universities across the UK to seek answers to these questions as quickly and completely as possible.

However, we should remember that leaving the EU will not happen overnight. The Treaty on European Union foresees a two-year negotiation process between the UK and other member states, during which time the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union will be decided. For this reason there will not be any immediate material change to the immigration status of current and prospective EU students and staff or to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+.

Our primary concern at this time is for those staff and students who may be affected by the outcome of the referendum, and we will continue to offer advice and support to them over the coming weeks and months.


What was the Students' Union official statement on the EU referendum vote?

Christy McMorrow, then President of Sheffield Students’ Union, said:

"All of the incoming and outgoing officer teams are bitterly disappointed to have woken up to the news that the UK has voted to leave the European Union, and we know a huge number of our students will be too. We know that many of our students, particularly from the EU will be worried. We won’t know the full impacts of this outcome for a while, but if you are concerned and need support you can email our Student Advice Centre at advice@sheffield.ac.uk

"We are immensely proud of the campaign the Students' Union (SU) has run. From the SU referendum to massive voter registration drives to our push for a remain vote, we are proud to have stood up for the UK being open and inclusive, and for the best future possible for our students.

"We also must make sure that we do not give up on fighting for the things that are important to our members, and we will ensure that although the UK may not be in the EU, we will fight hard to ensure our EU students and staff are protected, that funding for our postgraduates remains steady and that none of the rights EU membership ensures are taken from us.

"We will never stop working for a world that is more open and inclusive, that allows our members from other countries to feel safe here, and allows our universities to thrive. Today may be a difficult day, but the most important thing I can say is this: To our EU students and staff, our University life is so much more enriched, positive and open for having you as our friends and colleagues. We will never stop working to make sure that this University is a place where borders don't define our friendships. So we will stand together and continue to do best by our members, come what may."


What is the official statement from Government concerning implications for higher education?

Please see the statement from Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, on higher education and research following the EU referendum.


Will non-UK EU staff and student nationals need visas to study or work in the UK?

No, during the transition period the UK remains a member of the EU and remains bound by EU legislation. We understand that the UK, including UK universities, will continue to be able to access EU programmes on the current basis. Non-UK EU staff and students retain the right to remain under the current arrangements.

Arrangements after transition will be subject to negotiation between the UK Government and the European Union.

We will play our part in ensuring that any new future arrangements continue to support student and staff mobility, promote borderless research collaboration and enable our being fully part of an internationally-engaged higher education system.


How does the University see the future for international students and staff from other EU countries?

We are a community of international scholarship open to students from across the world and deeply proud of what our international students achieve when they are with us and go on to do in the world after they graduate.

Our University is a Top 100 University globally and home to staff and students from around the world, including many from other EU nations. Scholars from these countries are central to the teaching of students and research in everything from medicine and science to engineering, social sciences and the arts and humanities.

Our University and Students’ Union lead a national campaign to welcome and celebrate international students and this work continues. We are now supported in this by 100 other universities, but the push began in Sheffield with students and a university who treasure our international family. The message is clear – international students and scholarship are welcome here.

#WeAreInternational


What is the University's position on the research it undertakes with other EU countries?

Our research is global, made possible by postgraduates and early career researchers from across the world. Our Grantham Institute, for example, works with scientists, engineers and social scientists to address global challenges of environmental sustainability. Our work on energy, future cities, medical technologies and food security knows no geographical boundaries. Our industrial and research partnerships are a list of the world’s great companies, and this provides a powerful opportunity for our students from all countries to learn from our links to global organisations such as Siemens, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Santander.


For students

I am an undergraduate/postgraduate student at the University and would like advice about residency and my status in the UK?

If you have queries about your status in the UK, the Students' Union Student Advice Centre can offer you advice on UK residence queries and help with residence applications. Email advice@sheffield.ac.uk to make an appointment and/or visit the EEA Students and Family Members section of the Student Advice Centre web pages.

Additional information is also available on the following websites: UKCISA and Free Movement

For non-UK EU students, applying for permanent residence includes a requirement to have comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) whilst studying in UK. More information about CSI requirements can be found on the UKCISA web pages. Another useful resource is Free Movement.


I am a non-UK EU undergraduate/postgraduate student and have heard about comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI), what is it and why is it important?

There is a requirement that all non-UK EU students in the UK should have comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) for the duration of their studies in the UK. This means having either a valid EHIC card issued from your home country or private medical insurance which will cover the majority of inpatient and outpatient care. You will receive free NHS treatment whilst a student in UK but access to the NHS is not considered as comprehensive sickness insurance. More information about CSI requirements can be found at UKCISA. Another useful website is Free Movement.

If you wish to apply for an EU residence certificate or permanent residence you must have proof of CSI. For further advice email advice@sheffield.ac.uk


What is the city of Sheffield's view of international students?

Sheffield as a city has offered a warm welcome to international students and it will continue to do so. Our students from around the world celebrate their own cultures and friendships in many ways, participate in volunteering activities and enjoy festivals and sports in the city centre and our beautiful Peak District. In return the city is deeply grateful for the investment and vibrancy our international students bring. They see our students training to be architects, lawyers and engineers. They see the contribution you make to our hospitals as doctors, and they know that you go on to serve the world in wonderful and important ways after graduation – taking something of Sheffield with you into the wider world.

A statement highlighting the city’s commitment to international students and celebrating the positive cultural and economic impact they have on Sheffield’s vibrancy was issued at the national conference of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKISA) in Sheffield (29 June – 1 July 2016).


Sheffield voted to leave the EU – does that mean I will not be welcome in Sheffield?

Absolutely not. The University is an international university, what we gain from a diverse student and staff population is immeasurable. We will continue to offer a place of welcome to scholars and students from across the continent and our world.

Sheffield has a strong reputation as a diverse, vibrant and friendly city. This will not change as a result of the EU referendum vote.

A statement highlighting the city’s commitment to international students and celebrating the positive cultural and economic impact they have on Sheffield’s vibrancy was issued at the national conference of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKISA) in Sheffield (29 June – 1 July 2016).


As an undergraduate or postgraduate student what does this mean for my fees and my access to student loans?

The Government has confirmed (on 21 April 2017) that non-UK EU students will "continue to remain eligible for undergraduate, master’s, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support in academic year 2018 to 2019", and they will "continue to have access to student loans and grants, even if the course concludes after the UK’s exit from the EU". Non-UK EU students will also be eligible for home fee status.

This Government has previously made the same commitment for students enrolling in 2016/17 and 2017/18 academic years.

The announcement also states that non-UK EU nationals will "remain eligible to apply for Research Council PhD studentships at UK institutions for 2018 to 2019 to help cover costs for the duration of their study".

If you want to find out more about fees please see our Tuition Fees information.


I am planning to apply/or have already applied as an undergraduate/postgraduate to the University – what does this mean for my fees and my access to student loans?

The Government has confirmed (on 21 April 2017) that non-UK EU students will "continue to remain eligible for undergraduate, master’s, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support in academic year 2018 to 2019", and they will "continue to have access to student loans and grants, even if the course concludes after the UK’s exit from the EU". Non-UK EU students will also be eligible for home fee status.

This Government has previously made the same commitment for students enrolling in 2016/17 and 2017/18 academic years.

The announcement also states that non-UK EU nationals will "remain eligible to apply for Research Council PhD studentships at UK institutions for 2018 to 2019 to help cover costs for the duration of their study".

If you want to find out more about fees please see our Tuition Fees information.


Will arrangements for Erasmus+ continue?

Yes, during the transition period the UK remains a member of the EU, and we understand that the UK, including UK universities, will continue to be able to access EU programmes on the current basis.

The Erasmus+ programme has advised that people should continue with Erasmus+ funded activities and preparation for the next round of applications.

If you are coming to the University in 2015–16 or 2016–17 we want to reassure you that this decision does not impact on your Erasmus+ mobility period and that we will fulfil our obligations as initially agreed between your home university and The University of Sheffield regarding your study period with us.

If you are a University of Sheffield student going abroad in 2015–16 or 2016–17 we want to reassure you that this decision should not impact on your Erasmus+ mobility and that we do not anticipate any changes to the grant that you will receive for your time abroad.

We will play our part in ensuring that any new future arrangements continue to support student and staff mobility, promote borderless research collaboration and enable our being fully part of an internationally-engaged higher education system.


Will I be able to work in the UK whilst being a student?

Yes, during the transition period the UK remains a member of the EU and remains bound by EU legislation.


I have a compulsory year abroad as part of my course – what does this mean for me?

During the transition period the UK remains a member of the EU and remains bound by EU legislation. We understand that the UK, including UK universities, will continue to be able to access EU programmes on the current basis.

We would like to reassure you that we believe that the study in Europe required as part of your course will go ahead as planned. We shall make sure we keep you up to date with any changes that might impact on your studies and that we will support you in every way possible to achieve your academic goals.


Will arrangements for Research Council UK (RCUK) research training funding for non-UK EU nationals continue?

The Government confirmed on 1 December 2016 that 'Research Council studentships remain open to EU students starting courses in academic year 2017 to 2018. The funding support will cover the duration of their course, even if the course concludes after the UK has left the EU'. This builds on RCUK’s statement of 6 July 2016 that 'EU students eligible for RCUK support under current rules will continue to be eligible for RCUK fees-only support if currently undertaking or about to start in the 2016–17 academic year, and will continue to receive fees-only funding for the duration of their courses'.

For staff

I am a member of staff at the University and an EU national from outside the UK – can you help me seek a permanent right to stay in the UK?

The Government has confirmed that there will be no immediate changes following the EU referendum, including in the circumstances of non-UK EU citizens living here. This includes those studying or working at UK universities. And there will be no immediate change to our UK visa policies. Please see the statement from the Government on the status of EU nationals in the UK.

During the transition period the UK remains a member of the EU and non-UK EU staff retain the right to remain under the current arrangements.

We are working hard to clarify the long-term position of non-UK EU staff once the UK actually leaves the EU. This is a key priority for the University and one which we, along with others in the sector, have taken up as a matter of urgency with the Government. We will keep those colleagues affected updated as the details become available.

We know that you will have specific questions about the impact of the UK leaving the EU and we are reviewing the immigration support we provide. You will receive information about this support if you are an EU national from outside the UK, if you don't or have any questions please email eu@sheffield.ac.uk


Should I still apply for EU research funding?

Yes. The referendum result has no immediate effect on those applying to or participating in Horizon 2020. UK participants can continue to apply to the programme in the usual way. The future of UK access to European science funding will be a matter for future discussions. Government has said it is determined to ensure that the UK continues to play a leading role in European and international research.

For more information see the statement from Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, on higher education and research following the EU referendum.

Update 13 August 2016: The Government has issued a further statement on EU research funding, stating 'where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while we are still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.'


Will my research funding from the EU continue?

During the transition period the UK remains a member of the EU, so the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 will continue.

Update 13 August 2016: Please see the further statement from the Government on EU research funding.

Further information for staff

View letters which have been sent to our University community and partners regarding the result of the referendum.

The implications of Brexit on immigration

We hosted an information session for staff on 'The implications of Brexit on immigration' on Friday 21 October 2016 led by immigration expert Hazar El-Chamaa from Penningtons Manches.

Watch a recording of the session (for staff only – you'll need to be logged into Muse/your staff Google account)

The information provided is correct as of 21 October 2016 and does not constitute legal advice. Before proceeding with an application, staff are advised to check the gov.uk website for up-to-date information and seek legal advice as needed.

Information on these pages is accurate to the best of the University's knowledge and based on advice from the UK government and national bodies for universities. However, we reserve the right to update and amend information as we seek further clarification on questions arising from the referendum.