In October 2019 the UK and EU reached agreement on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. A trade deal, setting out the terms upon which the UK and EU will trade with each from 2021, and other rules are still to be agreed. The UK is looking for a deal similar to the one reached between Canada and the EU and aimed to secure agreement by 15 October 2020, allowing enough time to sign off before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. The deadline for extending the transition period has now passed.
The UK-EU Political Declaration promises negotiations on a number of areas relevant to colleges including:
- Future UK participation in EU programmes, including Erasmus+ (paragraph 11)
- Cross-border data flows (paragraph 38)
- Mobility arrangements, including 'visa-free travel for short-term visits', 'conditions for entry and stay for purposes such as research, study, training and youth exchanges and 'social security coordination' (presumably including access to education for children and young people) (paragraphs 48-57)
According to the Political Declaration, the negotiations over participation in European Union programmes depend on agreement in four areas:
- A fair and appropriate financial contribution
- Provisions allowing for sound financial management by both Parties
- Fair treatment of participants
- Management and consultation appropriate to the nature of the cooperation between the Parties.
AoC published a position paper on the day of the UK's departure from the EU setting out six Brexit-related issues for colleges (skills shortages; education; exports; Erasmus+; regional funds and regulation):
In January 2019 the Independent Commission on the College of the Future published a discussion paper written by college leaders in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The paper outlines the best ways for government to deliver a strong economy and robust labour market after Brexit. Recommendations include a new social contract for college student funding, a lifetime learning entitlement, a national retraining programme and a better jobs deal: