Student leaders from the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland today issued a joint statement condemning the chaos which currently exists in Northern Ireland regarding Brexit and the impact of devolution stalemate there.
NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes, NUS President Shakira Martin and USI President Michael Kerrigan held a student summit in London today and issued this statement:
“The future of opportunity is fading away before our very eyes. Students, and others are being caught unwillingly in the chaos and uncertainty that has been imposed upon people in Northern Ireland because of Brexit, and a lack of planning by those espousing it.
“People don’t know whether there will be a hard or soft border, and whether trade will stay the same or unwieldy customs checks and tariffs will damage business. Students and others are having a difficult enough time without education and research opportunities, as well as the job market and apprentice opportunities, potentially being decimated in Northern Ireland because of Brexit.
“We need to see government protecting people’s rights, protecting cross-border and other student mobility and plugging the funding gap left by the likely loss of EU research funding.
“The possible ramifications of Brexit on peoples’ rights, their educational opportunities and on the economy in Northern Ireland is truly frightening. The student movement across the UK, Northern Ireland and Ireland is extremely concerned about the potentially devastating impact of Brexit upon international students, people from elsewhere who live in the UK, and upon citizens and protected groups’ rights enshrined within the Belfast Agreement.
“People in Northern Ireland, and for that matter around the UK, need and deserve guarantees about a common travel area on the island of Ireland and the right to remain in the UK.
“Government must provide urgent reassurances and put in place plans to bridge the funding gap left in research and enrolments which will likely exist if and when the UK leaves the EU.”
NUS-USI has created a strategy paper to address the potential impacts that Brexit could have on students in Northern Ireland.