University of Bristol and Brexit

Latest updates

12 January 2021

What does the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement mean for us?

The UK government has reached an agreement with the European Union on a future relationship which took effect from 1 January 2021. The wide-reaching agreement has several implications for us. Here is an initial summary of what has been agreed.  Please see our guidance notes on key topics for further information.

It is important to note that, while the overarching ‘deal’ does reduce the likelihood of disruption we might have otherwise faced in a ‘no deal’ scenario, some uncertainties remain. We will reflect any future changes in our topic guidance notes and alert you to these developments through the weekly Staff Bulletin.

Research collaboration: Horizon Europe

The UK will participate in the Horizon Europe programme as an associated country (albeit, please note, this is subject to a final agreement once the relevant EU legal texts have been finalised). 

This means that we will be able to participate in all parts of Horizon Europe, including: 
• Joint Research Centre (JRC) activities, article 185 and 187 partnerships;
• European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT);
• European Research Infrastructures Consortium (ERICs); and
• European Research Area Committee.

There was also agreement on UK participation in the Euratom Research and Training programme for 2021–25, which covers the ITER fusion partnership, as well as the Copernicus Earth observation programme.

Student mobility: Erasmus+ and the Turing scheme

The UK government decided not to seek participation in the new Erasmus+ programme. This means that we will not be able to participate after the current programme ends in July 2022. All existing funding that was already granted to UK universities under the previous Erasmus+ scheme is unaffected.

The UK government will instead launch the Turing scheme, providing £100 million in funding for 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements abroad from September 2021. 

While we await further details on the scale and scope of the new programme, it is already evident that it will: 
• be global in nature (not Europe-specific); 
• target students from disadvantaged backgrounds; and 
• will not provide any funding to facilitate inbound student mobility. 

Student mobility is an important element of our internationalisation strategy. We will aim to publish our approach to enabling student mobility post Erasmus by May 2021. The scale of future opportunity we can provide our students will be contingent on the level of additional investment we can afford to make at the present time.

Recruiting EU staff & Immigration

Separately to the Brexit agreement, the UK’s new points-based immigration system came into effect from 1 January 2021. This new set of rules applies to EU/EEA citizens coming to the UK, as freedom of movement for these citizens has now ended. As per the Withdrawal Agreement, EU citizens who arrived in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 still have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Data protection and data transfers

A four-month data adequacy bridge has been agreed, with the potential to extend this to six months. This means, for a maximum of six months from 1 January 2021, personal data can continue to flow between the UK and EU (as well as the EEA) as it did before. During this time, it is expected that the UK and EU will agree a longer-term adequacy agreement.

Purchasing goods from the EU and exports to the EU

There will be no additional tariffs on purchases. However, there are new customs regulations that have to be complied with which may delay the receipt of goods from the EU and may have an impact on cost.

We also need to comply with customs regulations, including the completion of necessary documentation, if we send anything to the EU. This would include samples or equipment for repair, for example.

The existing procurement regulations (including financial thresholds) remain largely unchanged, except that new tenders are now advertised in the UK Find A Tender service, rather than the EU’s Official Journal.


The UK and EU have agreed visa-free travel for tourist visits of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. However, there are additional actions which might be required if travelling to the EU for work or study, even for a short period of time. For instance, a visa, work permit or other documentation might be required. Further information can be found on

These new rules do not apply to travel to Ireland, and British and Irish citizens can continue to move freely between the UK and Ireland as part of the Common Travel Area arrangements.

Health insurance

UK nationals with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can continue to use them in the EU until they expire. However, these EHICs can no longer be used in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. 

EHICs will be replaced by a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This card covers some medical care but is not a replacement for travel insurance.
Mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ)

The mutual recognition of professional qualifications between the UK and EU has now ended. Instead, the UK and EU have agreed a framework by which professional bodies in the UK and in EU countries can work to agree a certain level of bilateral recognition in the future.

Those persons that previously have had their professional qualifications recognised, or who have applied for a recognition decision before the end of the implementation period (meaning that the application was submitted by 31 December 2020), are unaffected. 

For any further queries, you can contact us at and we will direct your enquiry to the relevant team to respond to you.

Statement from the Vice-Chancellor

Hugh BradyThe University of Bristol has a distinctive international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, and our international staff and students play a vital role in the ongoing and future success of our institution. The Brexit discussions and the uncertainty over the last four years has caused concern for everyone, but we want to assure all staff and students that they are welcome here at Bristol in 2021.

We are absolutely committed to supporting everyone in our community. This website has been developed to help you to keep up to date with latest developments relating to Brexit and to provide you with sources of advice.

I hope that you find the information on this website useful. We will continue to update it as and when more information becomes available so please check it regularly to ensure that you stay up to date with the latest information.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice Chancellor

Our research and Brexit

Many of our researchers have fed into the Brexit debate, lending fresh insights and influential advice.

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