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DMU launches #LoveInternational campaign to protect residency rights for EU staff

A campaign to protect the residency rights of international staff working at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been launched following the country's historic decision to leave the EU.

Almost 52% of people voted Leave in last week's referendum, triggering a series of consequences including the devaluation of the pound and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

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The long-term effects of the result are uncertain but there are concerns across the higher education sector about the impact on staff and students originally from the EU.

In response, DMU, led by Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard, has launched a campaign lobbying to protect the residency rights of those staff members from the EU whom may be affected by the decision.

There are currently more than 300 international staff working across DMU, of whom 120 are from the EU.

Many of these gathered together in DMU's Hawthorn Square to launch the campaign, which is being spearheaded by Professor Shellard.

He said: "This rally is an act of solidarity but it is also the start of vigorous campaign to ensure that the residency rights of our EU colleagues at DMU is unchanged.

"While I am personally deeply distressed by the vote to leave the European Union, I believe that the only real response is to redouble the fight for tolerance, compassion and an international outlook."

The #LoveInternational campaign has three main aims:

  • To oppose discrimination and prejudice in whatever form they take
  • To reassert that DMU is a university which is welcoming to and supportive of international students and staff in Leicester
  • To fight to protect the residency rights of EU staff

Dr Tiziana Sgamma, an Italian lecturer in Biomedical Science at DMU, said she felt scared after hearing about the referendum result.

She said: "Everything was suddenly uncertain and I was immediately worried about how people would be thinking about me."

Dr Antonio Peña-Fernández, a Spanish Biomedical Science lecturer said: "I was in Spain at the time and my first thought was, 'things are going to change'.

"We don't know if we are going to be able to get research grants as easily, or whether Erasmus+ students can come and study. The impact on our work could be big, we just don't know yet."

DMU Governor Marcia Saunders also spoke at the campaign launch event. She said: "Ensuring that our European colleagues can quickly convert to residents’ rights and get the security they deserve will show in practical terms how we value our European colleagues, and demonstrate our commonality of being and purpose. We can then get on with taking our country not back, but forward."

Posted on: Friday 01 July 2016

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