There is still a risk that a trade deal will not be reached (a 'no deal' scenario) in October 2020. This would mean that in 2021 the UK would follow World Trade Organization rules when it leaves the EU's main trading arrangements (the single market and the customs union).
For colleges, the implications of no deal from 2021 are possibly clearer than before the Withdrawal Agreement was reached in 2019. For example, much more information is now available about the changes that Brexit brings for college EEA staff and students:
- The Home Office published further details about the UK's points-based immigration system
- On 5 October 2020 it launched the new Student visa route
- In June 2020 the Universities Minister announced changes to EEA student funding from summer 2021
The main areas of college life that no deal could impact are:
- Data transfer: the UK automatically becomes a third country at the end of the transition period. This means that UK organisations need extra standard contract clauses if they’re transferring data to the EU. The UK has asked EU for an adequacy decision to allow existing arrangements to continue. Whether there’s a deal or not, there may be some disruption in this area but a deal on trade may make a resolution of this issue more likely. The Information Commissioner's Office has some useful information on this.
- Customs: there will be new customs declarations and tariffs to pay for goods imported after 1 January 2021. Colleges are more likely to source consumables from within the UK but may wish to check government guidance on importing after Brexit. There may be some disruption in early 2021 to food and other supplies entering the UK and hence to local supply chains as the country adjusts to the new regulations.
- Erasmus+: any form of UK participation in the Erasmus+ programme from 2021 is dependent on the outcome of UK-EU negotiations.
- Apprentices: some companies, already hit hard by Covid-19, may find it more difficult to trade following the UK's departure from the EU.
AoC received funding through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Business Readiness Fund in September 2019 to provide guidance for colleges on a possible no deal scenario. We filtered advice from government and put together:
- A 'College Readiness Pack' to offer short-term planning guidance for college leaders. The pack includes a GDPR briefing produced by Irwin Mitchell, a short risk assessment checklist, continuity plan checklist and FAQs.
- A series of webinars and podcasts produced in October 2019.
Some of the no deal information AoC produced has since been superseded by government policy statements or other advice published in 2020. However, colleges may still find it helpful to refer to the materials:
No deal webinar (16 October 2019), recording available here.