On the week of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes and a delegation of student leaders from around the UK and Ireland were in Brussels to speak to MEPs and the Michel Barnier taskforce to call for stability and guarantees about rights contained within the Belfast Agreement. The student leaders’ delegation included NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes, USI President Michael Kerrigan, NUS Vice-President Higher Education Amatey Doku, NUS Wales Deputy President Carmen Smith and USI Vice-President Academic Affairs Oisín Hassan. The trilateral group of NUS-USI, NUS and USI, which comprises the student movements in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and Ireland meets regularly, and has been campaigning for their objectives to be delivered to mitigate any potential negative impacts of Brexit on students.
NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes said: “This week it is important that people value the peace that the Good Friday Agreement delivered, and reflect upon how important dialogue is in building the best future for all. A student leaders’ delegation from across the UK and Ireland this week visited Brussels to meet with the Barnier taskforce and also MEPs, to impress upon them how important it is that the rights conferred on people here by the Belfast Agreement are protected, if and when the UK leaves the EU.
“It is also vital that that politicians replicate the hope that existed 20 years ago, through their actions regarding addressing Brexit to maintain mobility and opportunity, and also to deliver a deal to restore devolved government here.
“Through our meetings this week, we applied pressure to try and deliver the protections and guarantees students and apprentices require if the UK leaves the EU.
“We need to see continued student mobility on a cross-border basis here, and also on an EU-wide basis. It is also crucial that students and institutions here continue to have access to research funding, exchange programmes like Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+, and any other EU teaching and learning funding. We also wish to see all EU citizen given the right to remain here post-Brexit. It is also crucial that there is no increase in fees for students studying on a cross-border basis.
“Our visit to Brussels this week demonstrates the resolve and determination the student movement has across Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and Ireland to address and find solutions on the potential negative impacts of Brexit.”