The consequences of a Brexit for EU students

Posted on the 25th June 2016 by Louis

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Britain has voted. And it decided to go. Last week we speculated about what could happen after Britain turned its back to the European Union and hoped that the scenario will not materialise. But after waking up to this new reality we can only ask "what is next?" What is next for students from across Europe who came to study in British universities?

Although Brexit is now real and irreversible, the future is still uncertain as many of the questions are still to be answered by the soon-to-be new British government, EU leaders, and the resulting negotiations between the two. However, The University of Warwick reacted swiftly to the situation by addressing the concerns of the incoming as well as the current European students. The critical fear is clear and reasonable. Will Brexit raise tuition fees for EU students? Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor, Stuart Croft, in his letter on the issue wrote with confidence that "those already registered will not be affected by any fee changes the government might subsequently impose", promising equal treatment for those joining the university as of 2016. Further, Vice-Chancellor reminded that there will not be an immediate Brexit, as a complex and prolonged process of negotiating new terms of the UK-EU relationships could take over two years. Thus, the fee change is not viable until at least 2020.

The University also expects that student loan conditions or immigration status will not be affected in any way for all those currently studying at Warwick for the remaining duration of the course. However, this is yet to be decided by the government. But what about the Erasmus student exchange programme or any partnerships with the EU universities? Again, for the current students Warwick promises no change in opportunities and costs of the participation. Less promising are the statements that the university is not aware of "whether the basis on which student places are provided by our EU partners might alter", although close cooperation with the partners is promised in order to minimize the losses. This outcome is the most worrying for the UK students who have cherished dreams of a diversified and enriching university experience.

With some 1260 undergraduates and 500 staff members from the EU, as well as 700 exchange students from our partner institutions on the continent, Warwick’s diverse and cosmopolitan community will significantly change when fees rise. It is such diversity that makes Warwick extraordinary and attractive. The ever-growing scope of the diversified research by these international academics was key in propelling Warwick up the rankings. The limitations on the foreigners’ ability to stay in the UK and the brain drain could therefore harm Warwick’s image. The Warwick Business School, which was among the most sought-after financial education establishments because of the high prospects of employability in the City, should not expect to avoid the consequences neither. The loss of finance jobs to other European countries and London’s diminished status as the major European financial centre could indeed limit the number of applications to the WBS.

The good news is that the Vice-Chancellor, together with the entire leadership of the university, is determined to maintain the strength of the University. Stuart Croft concludes that "although we will leave the EU, Warwick will remain a strong, confident, global institutions". Let us conclude on that too and hope that he will deliver.

Written by Ieva Zvinakyte

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