The Withdrawal Agreement
On 17 October 2019 the UK and EU reached agreement on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. Following several failed attempts to secure UK parliamentary approval for the initial deal and a change of Prime Minister, the UK and EU agreed changes to the deal and the UK exit from the EU took effect on 31 January 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement sets out arrangements for the exit itself, for the transition period, for financial arrangements and for the protection of citizen's rights.
The Transition Period
The transition period meant that the Brexit impact on English colleges was deferred until 2021:
- changes but freedom of movement, the immigration system, employment rules and education funding arrangements took effect in January 2021 or later
- The UK continued to participate in EU programmes like ESF and Erasmus+ until December 2020 (as agreed in articles 137 and 138 of the withdrawal agreement).
- The EU Settlement Scheme remains open for EU nationals resident in the UK who wish to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. This process (governed by articles 13 to 23 of the withdrawal agreement) continues until June 2021 and while it does, it means no substantial changes to the employment rules or education funding arrangements for EU nationals. If an individual can show they have lived in the UK for 5 years, they can qualify for 'settled status'. If less than 5 years, 'pre-settled status'.