The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union has not only shaken the world economy but also rattled the higher education system across Europe. Brexit - an abbreviation for ‘British Exit’ from EU - impacts students and staff from the European Union, who had until now enjoyed almost equal benefits as UK citizens, as well as the universities themselves, who face uncertainty over future funding from EU programmes. While many experts have started to question UK’s future as an international education hub, some remain optimistic that with support from the government, universities will ride out the Brexit storm. Mr. Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director of higher education solutions firm, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), says, “I remain optimistic that UK universities will continue to thrive within the global higher education industry, as long as the UK government provides the support they need.”
However, the question that most international students are asking right now is whether Brexit will have any influence over their academic aspirations in UK.
Here we bring you the answers to the most pressing questions on the impact of Brexit on international students across the globe.
Any immediate implications?
First thing to consider here is that the United Kingdom will take minimum two years to separate from the European Union. As such, Brexit will have no immediate impact in terms of policy for international students studying or planning to study in the UK. Sakthy Edamaruku, media officer at the British High Commission, India, says, “The result of the UK referendum on EU membership has no implications for international students pursuing education in the UK -- this includes those who are currently studying in the UK.”
Students from the EU might face a few challenges, as the new status puts them in the category of international students, which could reflect in higher tuition fees and restrictions in work opportunities. However, the impact will not be reflected in the next 1 to 2 years, at least.
Less to payâ¦..
Technically, your tuition fee will not be lowered. However, given the fall of the UK pound by almost 10% following Brexit, the cost of studying for international students might come down by notches. Though the pound has recovered after that major fall, it is expected to remain weak against other currencies for some time. “Students will benefit from the drop in the British pound as it will make it cheaper for them to study in UK,” says Naveen Chopra, Chairman of The Chopras- an overseas education consultant. “The pound has already crashed by more than 10% and this trend or the drop may go further, so this will only benefit students.” Hence for the time being, incoming international students from lower income countries may expect to pay less in terms of overall cost of studying, including travel fare, accommodation costs and living expenses.
However, the bad news is that the Brexit impact might actually increase tuition fees for international students in the long term. The reason being UK universities, having to face financial loss resulting from the withdrawal of many EU education programmes, might increase their tuition fees to compensate for the loss.
Again, there would be no immediate impact of Brexit on international students in terms of immigration policy. Mr. Chopra believes that the exit of UK from EU will only open up possibilities for international students other than that from the Union. “I do not anticipate that the immigration policies for students will get anymore difficult than they already are. If anything, in time as Britain realizes the shortages that are going to develop if Europeans working in Britain leave, it will open up, in my view, possibilities for people from other countries to fill these vacant jobs including universities,” he says.
Currently, most students take the Tier2 (General) visa route to working in UK after studies, which is an employer sponsored visa allowing international students to stay up to 5 years in the country post their studies. However, only applicants who have been offered a job by an employer who holds a Tier 2 license and have been issued a Certificate of Sponsorship are eligible for the Tier 2 (General) visa category. Further, students have to earn at least Â£20,800 or more to be considered for the visa.
Effect on Quality:
Brexit will not necessarily dilute the academic quality of UK universities, but it is definitely expected to water down the diversity and the global image of the universities. Currently, most of the universities in UK are home to a large number of EU students and staff. For example, almost 13 percent of the students in University City London are from EU countries who had until now enjoyed equal opportunities as UK students in terms of fees and work opportunities. Following Brexit, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over them and their status in the country. This is definitely expected to bring down the number of international students both from EU and other countries. UK’s higher education is already under pressure for an increasingly dwindling international crowd. With Brexit in the news, the numbers might come toppling down as international students fear further tightening of immigration rules. “If the system is not modified and the government fails to factor in the hurdles faced by international students in securing jobs in the UK, then the demand for an education in the UK will continue to be on the decline,” warns Mr. Adarsh Khandelwal, co-founder at Collegify, a study abroad consulting firm
Scholarships no more?
This is a possibility in case of certain universities. While Brexit is unlikely to impact purely UK based scholarships like Commonwealth or Great, it might hamper chances of international students planning to engage in EU based grant opportunities through programmes like Erasmus+. Besides, funding for research previously run through EU schemes could dry up for both international as well as EU students.
What does it mean for other study destinations?
In 2012, the UK had abolished the post study work visa which allowed non-EU international students to stay back and work in the country for two years. The result was a heavy decline in the number of international students, especially, from India. By 2015, the number of Indian students in UK had fallen to 10,890 from over 40,000 in 2010-11. UK’s loss offered golden opportunities to countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand which have been witnessing steady increases in international students. However, Adarsh Khandelwal points out that Brexit may not have an impact on Australia or New Zealand they usually attract graduate students who aim for employment and go for Permanent Resident statuses in the long run. Instead, he believes that it is UK’s closest competitors that might benefit from Brexit. “Countries such as US, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong along with European countries could be preferred over UK as study abroad destinations,” he says.
What remains to be seen is whether there will also be a breakdown in the influx of EU students in UK in the coming years. Presently, EU students make up of about 5.5% of the total higher education enrollments in UK. However, the threat of no longer being considered on par with domestic students might push EU students to explore other study destinations within or outside Europe.
Stay tuned to www.studyabroad.careers360.com for more news and updates on studying in UK
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