SCOTTISH ministers have raised concerns that post-Brexit immigration policy could cause “confusion, anxiety and insecurity” for universities and students.

They claim that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, temporary leave proposals of 36 months – three years – will not provide adequate leave for the majority of students studying on four year courses in Scotland.

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Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead and Migration Minister Ben Macpherson have now co-signed a letter to Caroline Nokes, UK Immigration Minister, claiming the time limit will have “serious consequences” for Scottish institutions, and affect their ability to recruit undergraduates.

It is estimated around 9% of Scottish university students and 27% of full-time research staff are EU nationals.

The National:

Lochhead said: “Brexit is already the single biggest risk to universities, threatening our ability to attract and retain EU staff and students. This damaging policy can only make things worse.

“The UK Government is simply ignoring the fact that the majority of undergraduate courses in Scotland last four years, putting Scottish universities at a serious disadvantage when competing to attract EU nationals to study.

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“This will increase the confusion, anxiety and insecurity around the status of EU citizens coming to Scotland and it’s wholly unnecessary.”

At a People’s Vote rally in Edinburgh last week, Glasgow University principal Anton Muscatelli said Brexit would impact on the Erasmus exchange programme which allows students to study at universities across the EU.

A UK Government spokesman said students wishing to study longer could apply through the “study routes of the new skills-based immigration system” or apply for student visas. “Leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government’s top priority,” he added. “Students from the EU make an important contribution to the universities sector and it is a testament to our system that so many students from around the world choose to study in the UK.”