In order to ensure the highest quality of our services, we use small files called cookies. When using our website, the cookie files are downloaded onto your device. You can change the settings of your browser at any time. In addition, your use of our website is tantamount to your consent to the processing of your personal data provided by electronic means.

Brexit and the sector of science and higher education

Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union is to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and the citizens of the United Kingdom in the EU. In addition, it will set out the rules for financial settlement between the EU and the UK as well as introduce a transition period until 2020, during which the United Kingdom will have the same rights and obligations as if it was still a member country, however, without decision-making and institutional powers.

What impact will a no-deal Brexit have on science and higher education?

Recognition of professional qualifications

The system of recognition of professional qualifications is based on the provisions of Directive 2005/36/EC. The principal act implementing the above mentioned directive in Poland is the act of 22 December 2015 on the rules for the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in EU member states (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 2272).

The currently applicable system of recognition of professional qualifications provides that the citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, as well as the entitled groups of citizens of "third" countries (e.g. EU citizen's family members and long term residents) may apply for the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in EU member states, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, which allows them to perform their professions in Poland.

One of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit will be the lack of possibility to recognise in Poland – as well as in the entire EU – professional qualifications obtained in the United Kingdom according to the mechanisms applicable in the European Union. Professional qualifications obtained in the United Kingdom will be treated as qualifications acquired outside the EU.

Matters relating to proceedings conducted in Poland based on the act of 22 December 2015 on the rules for the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in EU member states (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 2272), and concerning the citizens of the United Kingdom as well as the citizens of EU member countries who obtained qualifications in the United Kingdom are regulated by the act of 15 March 2019 on regulating certain aspects related to recognition of professional qualifications in view of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community without a deal referred to in Art. 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 621).

The act will enter into force on the date of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union without a deal referred to in Art. 50(2) TEU.

The above mentioned act provides for:

  1. keeping in force the decisions on recognition of professional qualifications in Poland that were issued before the date of entry into force of the act, with regard to performing regulated professions or performing regulated activities, obtained in the UK;
  2. keeping in force the decisions on recognition of professional qualifications in Poland that were obtained in a different member state than Poland by the citizens of the UK or their family members;
  3. conducting, based on the current provisions, initiated and unfinished before the date of entry into force of the act, proceedings on recognition of  professional qualifications to perform regulated professions, which the citizens of member states, including Poles, are party to;
  4. discontinuation of initiated and unfinished before the date of entry into force of the act, proceedings on recognition of professional qualifications, which the citizens of the UK or their family member are party to;
  5. conducting, based on the current provisions, initiated and unfinished before the date of entry into force of the act, proceedings on recognition of professional qualifications of service providers, which the citizens of EU member states, including Poles, are party to;
  6. discontinuation of initiated and unfinished before the date of entry into force of the act, proceedings on recognition of professional qualifications of service providers, which the citizens of the UK or their family member are party to;
  7. expiration of decisions issued before the date of the entry into force of the act on recognition of professional qualifications of service providers, which the citizens of the UK or their family member are party to;
  8. expiration of European Professional Cards issued to the citizens of the UK or their family members before the date of the entry of the act;
  9. discontinuation of initiated and unfinished, before the date of entry into force of the act, proceedings on European Professional Card, which the citizens of the UK or their family member are party to;
  10. enabling the citizens of member states, including Poles, until 31 December 2021 to apply for recognition of professional qualifications to perform a regulated profession or a regulated activity, obtained in the UK, however the proceeding will not last longer than 42 months from the date of its initiation; the rule does not apply to qualifications to perform the so-called sectoral professions, i.e. doctor, dentist, veterinary surgeon, pharmacist, nurse, midwife, and architect.

Citizens who require recognition of professional qualifications to work in Poland in  sectoral professions: doctor, dentist, veterinary surgeon, pharmacist, nurse, midwife, and architect should apply for the recognition of their qualification before the day of the United Kingdom's exit from the EU.

General information on the recognition of professional qualifications can be found on the website of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

Polish students in the United Kingdom

In the case of a no-deal exit, unilateral British regulations will apply. In accordance with the declaration of the British Secretary of Education of 2 July 2018, EU citizens who start education at English universities in the academic year 2019/2020 will be treated analogically to British students. However, starting from academic year 2020/2021, people interested in education in the UK will have to consider the British position on long term policy of the United Kingdom with regard to EU citizens.

British students in Poland – information for universities subordinate to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education

In the case of a no-deal exit of the UK from the EU:

  • to the students from the UK who enrolled in Polish universities up to and including the academic year 2018/2019, Art. 222 of the Act of 3 July 2018 will apply – Regulations implementing the Act – Act on higher education and science (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1669), which states that persons will continue studying based on the earlier rules, i.e. rules set out in the provisions of the Act of 27 July 2005, Act on higher education (Journal of Laws of 2017, item 2183);
  • students – British citizens enrolled after the date of Brexit will be treated as third country citizens. In particular, they will not have the right to study based on rules applicable to Polish citizens, and therefore, they will not be automatically exempt from fees for studying full-time in Polish as is the case with citizens of European Union member countries. Possible exemptions from the fees will be granted only pursuant to Art. 324 sec. 1 of the Act of 20 July 2018 Act on higher education and science; (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1668): based on rules set out in the agreement between universities or an international agreement, an administrative decision of a rector, director of PAN institute or a director of a research institute, decision of a Minister or decision of the director of the National Agency for Academic Exchange with respect to its  scholarships recipients.

British scientists in Poland

Regardless of the UK's exit from the EU, British scientists in Poland will be able to continue their employment.

According to Art. 325 of the Act of 20 July 2018 Act on higher education and science hiring a foreigner to perform tasks related to education and conducting scientific activity will take place without the necessity to obtain the permission and consent of an employment authority. Such a person is subject to compulsory social security and health insurance, as well as exercise their rights on the rules that apply to Polish citizens in an employment relationship.

The question of legalising stays of scientists and students who are the citizens of the United Kingdom will be set out based on general term in the Act of 15 March 2019 on regulating certain aspects related to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community without a deal referred to in Art. 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 622).

EU Programme Erasmus+

The practical implementation of the Erasmus+ Programme in Poland is managed by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System (FRSE), which serves as the Polish national agency for the Programme. Financial funds for activities in the area of mobility are transferred to the Foundation by the European Commission, and then distributed by the FRSE among universities participating in the Program, based on applications submitted by these universities as well as agreements on mobility concluded with the FRSE. Polish universities send their students abroad according to bilateral cooperation agreements with universities in other countries participating in the Erasmus+ Programme (including the United Kingdom). Scholarship for implementing mobility in the UK are paid out to Polish students by their alma maters. Analogical funds for foreign students (e.g. British) staying in Poland as part of the Erasmus+ Programme will be paid out by their alma maters.

The cooperation started as part of Erasmus+ Programme before the date of Brexit will continue unimpeded thanks to the Regulation adopted by the EU (Regulation (EU) 2019/499 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2019 laying down rules for the continuation of ongoing activities regarding educational mobility within the framework of Erasmus+ Programme laid down by Regulation (EU) No 1288/2013 in view of the United Kingdom's exit from the EU). The Regulation concerns, among others, mobility of students and academic staff. The adopted provisions guarantee that the conditions of mobility that started before the day of Brexit will remain unchanged and unrestricted. Mobility conducted in the United Kingdom or concerning entities or participants from the United Kingdom, started before the date of Brexit will still be eligible for funding.

Due to the uncertainty related to the UK’s exit from the EU, the European Commission will undertake activities aimed at securing the implementation of the Erasmus+ Programme in the case of a no deal Brexit. In the case of any doubts, please contact the FRSE or the Department of Innovation and Development at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

EU Programme Horizon 2020 (as well as future EU framework programmes in the area of scientific research)

Entities from the Unites Kingdom are important participants of the EU Horizon 2020 programme. If there is no exit deal, unilateral declarations of the UK on ensuring funding for British participants of the Horizon 2020 programme will apply – with regard to all positively assessed applications, submitted before the date of the UK’s exit from the EU until the end of the implementation of the projects.

In the case of projects which, due to the UK’s exit from the EU, will cease to fulfil the minimum requirements concerning the number of consortium members from EU member countries, it will be necessary to start negotiations between the UK and the EU about the possibility of their continuation.