SCOTLAND’S universities are either "very" or "extremely" concerned about the prospect of a No-Deal Brexit – despite institutions putting plans in place ahead of the UK leaving the European Union.

A total of 10 universities in Scotland took part in the research, which found 80% of institutions had contacted staff and students about likely changes to immigration policy post-Brexit, with 60% having encouraged workers from EU nations to apply for settled status.

Half of universities said they had already lost existing or potential staff to overseas institutions – adding that this was directly linked to Brexit.

The survey by Universities UK also found that half the institutions taking part had seen an impact on their staff, with a third experiencing fluctuating demand from European students.

As the survey was published, Alastair Sim, the director of Universities Scotland, said: "We're clear that leaving the EU without a deal would be a very bad outcome for Scotland's universities, but one which we're working tirelessly to plan for. "

Two fifths (40%) of Scots universities said they had seen a variation in collaborative work with European institutions, with one in three having seen changes in demand from EU students.

Sim said: "As the countdown to October 31 looms and the possibility of No-Deal becomes increasingly likely, our universities are committed to mitigating, as much as possible within our gift, the worst possible consequences of No Deal.

"As responsible institutions, it's our duty to protect our students and staff, so I'm pleased to see so much activity dedicated to preparations for a No-Deal outcome, however much it's undesired by the sector.

"However, what we really want is an outcome that keep universities open to student and staff talent from the EU, and sustains our deep partnerships with our European neighbours."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman warned Holyrood would not be able to mitigate all the risks if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

"This new analysis confirms that Scottish universities are acting responsibly by assessing their preparedness for a 'No-Deal' Brexit.

"The Scottish Government is working with a range of partners across all sectors, including education, to plan for a potential 'no-deal', but it will simply not be possible to mitigate every damaging impact.

"Such work is expensive, time consuming and entirely of the UK Government's own making. The Prime Minister should immediately rule out the prospect of leaving the UK without a negotiated agreement."