By Michelle Coull

What will Brexit mean for students?

There is still a very large question mark when it comes to the Brexit impact on students.

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union will no doubt have effects on international students, both in the long and short terms.

But just how much will Brexit impact on international education?

Until the UK negotiates deals with the EU, questions about the logistics of student movement between Britain and the rest of Europe remain unanswered.

There are worries that international students will find themselves paying higher fees, rather than the EU rates, when they travel to or from the UK to study, and that there will be visa restrictions.

Some non-EU countries, such as Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, participate in the Erasmus+ scheme - which facilitates study abroad opportunities for students in Europe. This could be a possibility for the UK.

But Brexit and education is still a marriage very much in need of mediation.

There are more than 120,000 EU students in the UK, and these non-UK EU nationals represented 6.4% of full-time undergraduate and postgrad students at British universities in 2015.

EU students already in the UK when it formally leaves the EU are unlikely to change their status in terms of visa and fees.

But those who come to study afterwards may be subject to “international student” fees and visa restrictions.

Just how much Brexit impacts education remains to be seen, but the higher education sector is already working overtime to minimise the damage of post Brexit uncertainty.

And it’s not only the rest of Europe which the UK needs to reassure.

Britain is seen by many as being “closed for business” due to recent immigration policies, and Brexit has further supported that perception.

The University of Glasgow has seen Indian student numbers halve since the removal of the post-study work visa in 2012, and UK universities as a whole have seen study visas issued to Indian nationals decline by 82% over the last five years.

Which is why, earlier this month, the University of Glasgow sent its biggest delegation yet to India, to strengthen partnerships with institutions and industry and show a long-term commitment to welcome Indian talent to Glasgow.

Unfortunately, recent UK immigration policies promise to be even more damaging to the education sector whose global market share is already in decline. The consequences of leaving the EU only adds to the uncertainty.

And in the meantime countries like the USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand profit from growing international student numbers and appeal.

How will Brexit impact universities in the main?

Through the recruitment of EU nationals as staff and students, through rising construction costs and changes to EU funding.

EU research funding generates more than 19,000 jobs across Britain, providing £1.86 billon to the UK economy. This equates to 14% of all UK income from research grants.

With a little over 18 months left for negotiators to broker a deal to leave the EU, a lot of futures will rest on the outcome.


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