Policy Briefing 6
University staff demographics: the fabric of UK universities at risk from Brexit
Published April 2018

Dr Ludovic Highman outlines the potential impact of Brexit on academics at UK universities and shows that UK universities are highly dependent on EU academic staff.

In the briefing, Dr Highman highlights the proportion and distribution of EU academics in UK universities. He points out that many non-UK EU academics are employed in fields where the domestic pool of candidates is insufficient.

Dr Highman shows that EU citizens make up almost one fifth (over one third in some subjects) of all academics working at UK universities. In universities with the greatest research power and funding, particularly those belonging to the Russell Group, this rises to a quarter.

As with EU students, London and Scotland are the top destinations for EU academics. Northern Ireland also scores highly given its large number of Irish academic staff.

Dr Highman shows that the highest proportions of EU academic staff are found in nations and cities that voted Remain, suggesting EU populations in these areas are perceived as having a beneficial impact.

He concludes that restrictions to freedom of movement caused by Brexit could pose a severe threat to the quality and reputation of UK universities.

The briefing draws on CGHE’s research project, Brexit, trade, migration and higher education, which is part of The UK in a Changing Europe initiative. It focuses on UK higher education institutions’ perceptions of and responses to Brexit and associated challenges.