Written as a guest blogger by forum moderator Margarita Mpoulmpou a EU Greek national and aspiring lawyer. Translated for Brexit Decoded.
As a Greek national in my 4th undergraduate year at law school I was wondering in which country I could continue my postgraduate studies in order to achieve a master’s degree in European and International Human Rights Law. So I started searching for a hospitable country, endowed with specialised professors, in which the tuition fees will be accessible and possible for my parents to afford. I ended up choosing the UK’s universities, after intense galvanization from my father. However my first concerns about this choice, soon started to emerge. Questions that I couldn’t answer flooded my head, like:
What Brexit means for students who want to study in UK?
Am I welcome in the UK?
Will the quality of teaching decline after Brexit?
Will tuition fees increase?
Will I need to apply for a student visa?
As negotiations between the UK and the EU are ongoing it remains unclear and hard to predict what exactly will happen. Several scenarios are possible. In a soft Brexit scenario it is likely that European students would continue to be treated the same way as British students. Most importantly that would mean being charged the lower tuition fees and fewer regulations. It is very likely that Brexit will change this comfortable situation for the worse. So, in a hard Brexit scenario it would be possible that European students would stop being treated like domestic British students, meaning higher tuition fees. Likewise this would mean limited access for European students wishing to study in Europe.
The British economy and the strength of the British pound also play a major role. Within a year after the Brexit vote the British pound lost around 15% of its value, measured against the euro. The economic turmoil brought about by a potential hard Brexit is unforeseeable. It might be that the British pound would decline faster than the universities can adjust their fees, making studies in the UK more affordable in short term. It is therefore possible that in the wake of Brexit new regulations will be introduced that will require students from the EU to explicitly apply for students’ visas to enroll at British universities.
Universities and educators have been very clear about this: international students are welcome in the UK but that may conflict with the government and the current administration, which has publicly considered plans to control and limit immigration; including student immigration. There may be future policies making it harder for foreigners to study in the UK. That is why many students are now thinking about other countries in Europe that offers English-language degree programs or postgraduate diplomas.
UK is famous for its skilled and niche scientists, who are gifted with heaps of knowledge and know-how. If immigration into the UK should become harder for European academics, it is possibly that talented European professors, teachers and researchers would be forced to leave the UK or decide simply not to move in the UK. This might make it harder for universities to fill their academic positions with the most qualified candidates.
For all the reasons mentioned above it becomes clear that Brexit will have some serious effects on University life but it is hard to predict their kind. To sum up, it is easy to understand why students need to think twice before they decide if UK is still the best choice for their studies whether they are undergraduate or postgraduate.