UCU branch Motion carried for Free Movement Of Labour In Higher Education

The following motion was carried at a mass joint union meeting attended by approximately 200 members on October 20th 2016.


University of Liverpool UCU, Unite and Unison branches condemn in the strongest possible terms the proposal by home secretary Amber Rudd to restrict the entry of international students to ‘top’ universities and to introduce labour market tests aimed at reducing the numbers of international staff. We note this will impact on all post 16 educational institutions.

UK universities and all post 16 educational institutions depend on international students and staff not just in economic terms but in their very mission: to serve as spaces that are open to all people regardless of nationality and background. As such, the home secretary’s proposals are both nonsensical and racist.

The linking of student immigration rules to the government’s determination to further stratify higher education is especially pernicious. It is designed to maximise competition between HE providers and to blame ‘foreigners’ for the underinvestment and cuts for which they are not responsible.

These proposals come in the light of the recent vote to leave the EU that has endangered the existing free movement of labour within the European Economic Area (EEA). If this is ended, EEA staff will be drawn under the Points-Based Immigration Scheme, meaning that they will be subject to the same continual visa restrictions, employer-sponsorship arrangements, etc., that our international colleagues face. Similar barriers will likely be placed on UK nationals living in or moving to the EEA.

University of Liverpool UCU, Unite and Unison branches believe that ending freedom of movement of labour would represent a significant worsening of the conditions of present and future EEA staff in the UK. Any restrictions on freedom of movement of labour, and our right to work without discrimination based on nationality, will put increasing competitive pressure on EEA staff, and thus affect staff as a whole and weaken our union.

University of Liverpool UCU, Unite and Unison branches resolve urgently to campaign for the following:

  • No upper limits on the numbers of international students who wish to come to the UK and to study at universities or post 16 educational institutions of their choice
  • The immediate removal of international students from net migration targets
  • The free movement of labour and opposition to the Points-Based Immigration Scheme
  • An up-front guarantee for existing EU/EEA citizens in the UK to stay here
  • Protection for EU research funding and EU students
  • Full recognition of workers’ rights throughout EU withdrawal negotiations

University of Liverpool UCU, Unite and Unison branches further resolve

  • To publicise the fact that this motion has been passed and encourage other UCU, Unite and Unison branches to do likewise
  • To submit this motion, when passed, to the NEC of UCU, Unite and Unison.
  • To liaise with other branches regarding submitting a version of this motion to their respective National Conferences in 2017