Brexit’s effect on a university education

With the deadline for the post Brexit transition period looming, the fate of universities both within the UK and the EU is still uncertain.

When considering the ever growing effects of Brexit, the impact on universities may not be your first thought, however a lot is going to change. EU students hoping to study in the UK from 1st August 2021 onwards will no longer benefit from home fee status. Universities will instead set their own individual fees for EU students.

In England, EU students will no longer be able to access financial support from Student Finance England and in Scotland they will no longer benefit from their free university fees. For EU students wanting to attend Durham in 2021 they will now face a yearly increase of nearly £15,000 with tuition fees skyrocketing to £23,500 per year.

“A post-Brexit education is not only limited by cost but by accessibility”

This dramatic rise in cost along with the removal of support from Student Finance England means the opportunity of studying in the United Kingdom for many EU students will no longer be feasible.

A post-Brexit education is not only limited by cost but accessibility alike. New immigration laws and Visa requirements beginning 1st January 2021 will require all full-time students coming from the EU to apply for a student Visa before entering the UK. These restrictions paired with rising fees are likely to deter students wanting to study abroad and attract them to other European counterparts.

This situation is only further worsened by the pandemic. Many students are now facing ever-changing quarantine periods when entering the UK and the uncertainty of more lockdowns. All of this alongside a shift towards online learning is making a £23,500 per year tuition fee look less and less appealing.

Of course there is always another outlook which refers to the ideal that Brexit will allow universities to charge higher fees to EU students, helping grow the economy and funding for universities. This mentality, which the government currently holds, while aiming to benefit the UK as a whole, will subsequently disadvantage those from poorer backgrounds as it does not consider the effects it will have on students’ access to higher education both within the EU and the UK.

Regardless of the UK’s popularity amongst EU Students, increased fees will expectedly cause a decrease in those choosing the UK and in turn we may see a big change across our campuses.

Durham University currently has 1,300 EU students. In recent times, universities lacking in diversity have faced sustained criticism and the changes under Brexit are only likely to hinder future change.

“This situation is only further worsened by the pandemic”

However, it is not only UK universities that may see a change on their campuses, but EU universities alike. Recently, the government has come under criticism for voting against a bill that would have required them to negotiate their membership of the Erasmus scheme after the Brexit transition period.

The Erasmus scheme is a widely popular option for students due to its affordable nature with 53% of students studying abroad through Erasmus. Potential plans to scrap the Erasmus scheme would drastically limit the accessibility for students to study within the EU as costs would increase and connections between universities may be lost. To many, studying abroad is a vital and exciting part of their degree and something which, without Erasmus, they may never have the opportunity to do.

One thing is certain: whether you’re a UK student or an EU student hoping to study abroad, Brexit will make it much more difficult.

Image: “Banksy does Brexit (detail) #banksy #brexit” via Creative Commons

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