How is Brexit likely to impact students entering UK universities
When the UK decided to voluntarily step out of the European Union, demanding Brexit, little were they aware of the impact it would have on every aspect of life for international students. While the leaving date has now been extended till 31 January 2020 and the negotiations between the UK and the EU have officially come to an end, the future remains uncertain with several assumptions.
One of the most significant of them all is that Brexit will most likely have no direct effect on international students who are outside the EU. However, in a harsh scenario, there might be possibilities of European students being treated like non-European international students, which means higher tuition fees for those willing to pursue their academic aspirations in UK universities. Similarly, this would mean limited access and possibly higher fees for British students wanting to study in Europe.
Life before the proposal of Brexit
The EU citizens have been enjoying relaxed rules that involve advantages like easier immigration to all European countries. This streamlines the process of studying abroad for both UK and EU students. Students can pursue their education in any country as ‘home students’ paying fees that are generally lower in comparison to the fees charged to international students. However, for international students, pursuing higher education in the UK took a hit following strict student immigration laws in 2011 and the withdrawal of the post-study work visa the next year. As a result, the inflow of international students especially from India went down drastically over time.
Post-Brexit plans likely to work in favour of non-EU students
With Britain cutting its ties with the EU soon to get formalised, Indian students may find some strong reasons to approach this country for pursuing post-graduate studies. The British government’s ambitious immigration plan highlighting the economy’s need for skilled professionals coming into effect from 2021 will certainly work in favour of Indians and other migrants from the non-EU regions.
Unfortunately, students from the EU nations will no longer have an advantage over their counterparts from the subcontinent. The Britain education ministry has proposed that from 2021 the UK may start charging overseas EU students the same fees as charged to the other international students. Moreover, Britain’s exit from the EU might also affect the country’s reputation as one of the top study abroad destinations. There is also a possibility of getting no scholarships in the case of certain universities in the UK. While Brexit may not have any control over UK-based scholarships like Commonwealth or Great, it might impede the odds of international students willing to participate in EU-based grant opportunities through programmes like Erasmus+.
The bright side of changing policies in the UK for Indian and non-EU students
The new immigration policy by the British government will allow international students to stay back in the UK for six months after completing their graduate and postgraduate studies to secure suitable employment opportunities. For the Ph.D. students, the post-study work period will be stretched to one year. This will create a fair play for overseas students to seamlessly secure a place at a prestigious UK university and find a job following the completion of their course.
Considering the promising prospects in the wake of Brexit, it is evident that this is the most appropriate time for international students to enrol themselves in post-graduate programmes within the UK. That said, this year will indeed notice a surge in the number of Indians flocking to the UK in their quest for higher education.
(The author is Director, ESS Global-Study Abroad Consultant. Views expressed here are personal.)