BREXIT and what it means for UK universities and colleges

Well you heard it, the vote is in and BREXIT it is. So what does that mean for universities and colleges and what does it mean for students applying to study in the UK?

Take a look at a Times Higher Education article published in 2015, regarding the pros and cons of a Brexit vote.  Many in 2015 did not believe this would become a reality.  But the reality is here and the consequences are already creating ripple effects in higher education.

Most likely to be effected are research grants funded by the EU and collaborations with EU education consortiums.  According to the GUARDIAN on July 12, 2016, “British researchers receive about £1bn a year from EU funding programmes such as Horizon 2020, but access to the money must be completely renegotiated under Brexit.”  EU institutions may be unwilling to invest in the UK and thus will not be inviting UK universities to join future research projects.  Plus, without the guarantee of EU research funding, current UK-based research projects, projected to begin in 2017, could be under threat.  Some collaborations have already been put on hold as stated in another GUARDIAN article.

But as yet no-one is sure of the full extent of BREXIT and its potential impact on the Higher Education industry, an industry dating back as far as 1167, with the newest institution being officially granted university status as recent as 2016.  In Scotland where EU funding is worth an estimated £88.8 million annually, a Glasgow University professor states that “around 50 per cent of our prestigious European Research Council grant holders are non-UK nationals, many of whom brought their grants to our university with them. They provide an essential contribution to research and teaching in our Universities.”  According to a report on June 24, 2016 in the INDEPENDENT , “universities generate over £73 billion for the UK economy – £3.7bn of which is generated by students from EU countries.”

As soon as the result of the referendum was known UK universities and colleges were also posting statements on their websites regarding fee status for the next undergraduate and graduate cohorts of students.  University of Cambridge;  “The university has also confirmed that EU nationals currently studying as undergraduates at Cambridge will continue to be charged a UK fee rate, for as long as this remains possible under UK Law. This will also apply to 2016 applicants intending to begin study in 2017”.  University of Oxford: “EU students who are registered at the University in 2016/17 (either as a new or continuing student) will continue to be charged the home rate for tuition fees for all subsequent years of their programme.  ….Tuition fees for 2017/18 have not yet been agreed. Tuition fees for 2017/18 will be published on the University website on 1 September 2016.”  Some leading research universities from the Russell Group have already posted an increase in undergraduate fees from the current maximum of £9,000 to a possible new maximum of £9,250  for the 2017/18 year.

The concern amongst educationalists is real – only time will tell the true extent and depth of the reality of Brexit on our educational institutions and the economic benefits which they provide.

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