Brexit effect on UK unis set to drive brightest and best to EU universities

Brexit effect on UK unis set to drive brightest and best to EU universities

Brexit effect on UK unis set to drive brightest and best to EU universities

Amidst the angst over the effects of a no-deal Brexit – or any Brexit at all – on the hundreds of thousands of expatriates living either in EU member states or in the UK, one group is being almost totally ignored by both politicians and the media in general.

The effect of any kind of Brexit on Europe’s international students is being calculated as huge but the situation hasn’t yet warranted a mention in media coverage to date. It’s not just the students and the effect on their academic lives, it’s the universities themselves which will lose massively should overseas students not choose the UK for their degree courses. Today’s statement by representatives of British universities tells it like it as, saying a no-deal exit from the EU will be one of the worst threats the seats of learning have ever encountered.

In a letter to MPs, higher education leaders claim it’s no exaggeration that Britain’s universities will take literally decades to recover. The angst isn’t just about losing overseas students’ fees at a time when British students are choosing overseas universities on a cost basis, it’s about the undermining of scientific research as much as it’s about the money. The letter, signed by 150 UK universities, outlines research projects such as new cancer treatments and technological developments in the fight against climate change, all of which will be hit by the ending of valuable exchanges of knowledge once access to the EU’s research network and its funding is no longer available.

In addition, unless visas to study in the UK are made far easier and less expensive, the best young minds are likely to choose another destination for their degree courses. German universities are best placed to benefit, as degree-level education is free, even for expatriate students, and those British young people who’ve attended them are unlikely to harbour any loyalty to the UK when it comes to using their expertise in their former home country. As regards overseas student applications to British universities, a three per cent drop has already been noted and is believed to be due to Brexit.

As well as losing the brightest and best students, UK unis will also lose essential research funding valued in billions. For British students at the point of choosing whether to stay in the UK or apply to a European university, the threat posed by a no-deal Brexit makes the decision a no-brainer. As well as saving money, they’ll gain better-funded research facilities as well as the compulsory but valuable requirement of fluency in a second language. In addition, as generous grants are available for talented expat students, they won’t have to keep paying for their UK uni education until they’re 15 years or so short of retirement!

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