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Languages societies hold talks on EU student life post-Brexit

The University of Manchester Italian and Spanish societies held a meeting for international students concerned about their welfare on campus post-Brexit.

The two societies invited speakers who are experts in a wide range of topics, all of which could have serious consequences in a deal or no-deal situation. 

On the night, a member from the organising team said that she was surprised by how many people attended the event. There is clearly a real concern amongst international students about the consequences Brexit could have on their studies. 

The first speaker was Dr. Jorge Emilio Nuñez, Senior Lecturer in EU Law at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and activist in various divulgation activities regarding Brexit and its repercussions. He gave a helpful explanation on the law surrounding the EU and what British nationals will be giving up should they exit the EU. He also focused heavily on what rights EU nationals living in the UK will still have and how Brexit will affect freedom of movement in relation to the UK. 

His main message aside from his explanation of the law was one of encouragement: “Be well informed and do not panic”. He made it clear that it while many outcomes are possible, the most important thing is to know your rights and not get bogged down by the uncertainty.

Next to speak was Professor Terry Wyatt FRS , Professor of Physics at UoM and member of C.E.R.N, an organisation aiming to bring Europe together through science, where former allied and axis powers work together. For him, the net effect of Brexit will be negative, but he works to find the best ways to minimise the damage on the scientific endeavour.

He spoke about how damage had already begun in terms of the UK’s reputation in institutions across Europe, and the fact that applications from the EU have already dropped significantly. 

He discussed concerns around funding, as the UK benefits greatly from grants from the EU, and takes out much more than it contributes. The UK government has said that should Brexit happen it will replace this funding, but Professor Wyatt was very skeptical of this. He also spoke to the fact that if funding was to come from the UK government, the way grants were awarded would be likely to shift to what will serve the national interest, rather than what work is interesting to the scientist. 

Ms Alison Mewes, International Programmes Officer and Erasmus Institutional Coordinator at UoM spoke about how either a deal or no-deal situation will affect erasmus mobility and funding. Other than the mechanics of what could happen, she spoke about how opportunity for UK students will decrease no matter what happens. Erasmus works on an exchange basis, we can only send as many students out as we receive here. Lack of mobility and changes in funding, as well as reputation, will affect the amount of students coming here, and already has done. 

Last to speak was Dr David Casarejos Moya, chairman for Spanish nationals residing in the UK and expert on the EU settlement scheme and EU citizen’s rights. He mainly explained in detail the regulations surrounding applying for settled status, what rights this will give you as an EU citizen and how to apply. 

He gave a set of deadlines, but also added that “the dates are changing like a bingo game”. 

While the evening was extremely informative, the general mood was one of uncertainty. It was emphasised that everything was dependant on speculation, which can be frustrating for students. 

The atmosphere was a positive one however, and felt almost like a support group for Brexit anxiety. These kinds of events are extremely useful, as they provide a space for the stress caused by Brexit and also encourage the most helpful form of dealing with it: “Be informed and don’t panic.”

Tags: brexit, International students, law, welfare

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