Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan has warned that Brexit will damage the ability of universities to recruit suitably qualified technical staff, which will have major implications for vital research and development work.
The party’s Education spokesperson said:
“Analysis by the Russell Group of universities shows that 13 percent of the 9000 technicians working in their institutions are EU or non-EU nationals
“But under current immigration rules, universities cannot recruit technicians from outside the European Economic Area because the role does not meet the required visa threshold.
“The universities therefore fear that, if the current immigration system was applied to EU nationals post-Brexit, they will be unable to recruit relevantly skilled overseas technicians for these positions.
“Technicians who are highly trained and skilled, play a vital role in research teams. Those from overseas are needed to fill a significant skills gap, particularly in STEM subject areas.
“While measures are being put in place in terms of technical education and careers development, it will take several years to close the skills gap. In the meantime, any restriction on the ability to recruit skilled technicians from overseas would impact on the delivery of high quality research.
“This is just one more of the many implications of Brexit coming to light which will have a damaging impact on the university and research sector.
“The only way to guard against the many detrimental impacts on this sector is to secure designated special status for the north within the EU and ensure continued free movement of people and access to all funding streams.”