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Brexit Brunching: Bringing together academics, business and policymakers

In today’s blog, Shonagh McEwan highlights how academics in CAHSS have been connecting with business representatives and policymakers on an important issue arising from Brexit: low skilled immigration to the UK.

The University of Edinburgh recently hosted a Brexit Brunch titled, ‘Immigration with business representatives’. This was a roundtable format, focused on a central question: How will Brexit affect low skilled immigration to the UK?

Speakers included Professor Christina Boswell (SSPS), Dr Sarah Kyambi (SSPS), Professor Andrew Scott (Edinburgh Law School) from the University of Edinburgh and Professor Rebecca Kay from the University of Glasgow. Around the table, there were officials from Local Government, Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland as well as business representatives from the hospitality, construction, legal and social care sectors.

Bringing together different perspectives

With the benefit of academic expertise and wide-ranging experience and knowledge from the representatives in the room, dialogue was both focused and productive. The roundtable was deliberately cross-sector. It brought together different voices from business to discuss current concerns and potential challenges. This proved successful and confirmed the need for business to have a more cohesive voice on talking about this issue that moves beyond the needs of their particular sector.

The roundtable participants also observed that it is difficult to get their perspectives to gain traction outside Scotland despite, in some cases, participation at several parliamentary inquiries and in the on-going Migration Advisory Committee consultation.

Identifying a way forward

The discussion culminated in agreement on the need for a forum to discuss and agree Scotland’s future immigration policy that brings together a wider range of stakeholders. The group agreed that a ‘Commission on Immigration for Scotland’ could provide a way forward that gives greater consideration to the arguments, and legitimacy to conclusions, on the direction for immigration policy in Scotland post-Brexit.

With help from the ESRC IAA Impact’s Business Booster Funding, the academics have already initiated a new project that will investigate the scope and prospects for a Commission on Immigration for Scotland to bring together stakeholders across business and civil society for the purposes of ensuring perspectives on immigration in Scotland are taken into account.

Linking your research to business and policy

This Brexit Brunch was a good example of how researchers can initiate new connections and dialogue with business and policymakers. In turn, this strengthens the potential for our research to be of benefit to the Scottish economy and society. This can sometimes feel like a complicated process, but this format proved an effective starting point.


The next Brexit Brunch on ‘Trade and Brexit’ will take place on 21 November.  The Brexit Brunches are by invitation. If you feel this could be relevant to you and you would like to find out more, please contact Clare Sowney on

The Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team in CAHSS is interested to hear from academics who might benefit from making links to industry on their area of research expertise. If you feel you want to engage with business through your research or to discuss this further, please contact Clare Sowney (Business Development Manager, CAHSS) at or Shonagh McEwan (Knowledge Exchange and Communications Adviser, CAHSS) at

Shonagh McEwan is a Knowledge Exchange Adviser in the Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team.

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Shonagh McEwan


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