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Brexit and Scottish colleges and universities

We are working with colleges, universities, the Scottish Government, and wider stakeholders to identify and respond to the potential impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

On 31 January 2020, the UK left the EU, entering the transition period which will last until at least
31 December 2020. The UK and EU are currently engaged in negotiations on the terms of their future relationship.

Our updated Brexit Update [PDF] covers the UK withdrawal on 31 January, the transition period and negotiating the future relationship between the EU and UK. We will continue to update this page as political developments occur.


The COVID-19 crisis represents a significant external shock to the further and higher education sectors, and the joint impact of Brexit and COVID-19 is expected to present a number of challenges in the years to come. SFC has been asked by Scottish Ministers to conduct a review to consider how best to achieve coherence and sustainability in the future delivery of further and higher education taking account of the joint impact of the COVID-19 crisis and Brexit transition.

Our work has included:

Producing or contributing to reports and publications

We published guidance for Scottish colleges and universities on managing a no-deal Brexit, as well as a Brexit checklist. As the UK has now left the EU with a deal, we have removed these documents. The claim that no-deal remains a possibility is broadly correct, although it’s important to emphasise that this is a different type of no-deal to the one that was commonly discussed in the lead up to the previous Brexit deadlines. If it is necessary, we will publish an updated version of the no-deal guidance towards the end of this year.

On 9 December 2018, we published a briefing on the potential impacts on colleges and universities of the UK leaving the EU [PDF]. We continue to monitor data on activity related to EU membership. The broad trends and themes we highlighted in the 2018 briefing have remained unchanged since that time.

The College Brexit Forum (the Forum) produced the report EU Exit - Impact on Colleges [PDF] to provide a strategic overview of the potential challenges facing the college sector in Scotland as a result of Brexit. The Forum is made up of representatives from Colleges Scotland, Scottish Government, NUS Scotland, the College Development Network, EIS, Unison, and SFC.

Responding to consultations

As part of our work we have provided responses to consultations on a range of issues covering topics such as the Horizon programme, European Structural Funds, the future of immigration, and international engagement post-Brexit. Copies of our formal submissions are below:

Consultations have been at a Scottish, UK and European level. Please contact us if you would like to discuss any of our responses.

EU Exit contact

Sarah Kirkpatrick, Assistant Director, tel: 0131 313 6696, email: