Zirong Lyu

Hope or Fear: where should students ‘Brexit’ to?

With the Brexit timeline supposedly approaching the final stage, more and more students start to think about finding their own ‘emergency exit’ to the future. What do students think about their life in the post-Brexit era?

As a final-year Psychology student who has previously spent a year abroad, Emily Stubbs believes that Brexit changes nothing for her. Unlike most of her  peers, she is unexpectedly positive about the future changes in the university education. “To be fair, I kinda voted to leave (the EU)”, she grinned. “I think the education quality would increase even if no-deal Brexit came true. If we’re monitoring immigration more effectively and manage to reduce stress on the services like the NHS and the education, whilst simultaneously using some of the EU budget (the UK’s EU membership fee) to fund education, I don’t see why the education quality would decline.”

Emily also mentioned how no-deal Brexit would affect those British students who want to study in the EU countries. “I think a no-deal Brexit would complicate the process, especially if we (British students) need visas. More likely visas will be introduced.” But she still believes that applying for the EU visas shouldn’t be much more complicated than studying in the countries like America and Canada.

Umut Temel, a Media student from Turkey, holds a very different opinion about the impacts of the Brexit regarding the education quality. “I think Brexit voters shouldn’t just look at the short-term goal to rush their decisions”, he emphasised, “people should notice that the general political environment is becoming hostile to foreigners because of Brexit. What will happen if all these foreign lecturers are forced to leave our uni?” Umut agrees with Dame Janet Beer’s article that a no-deal Brexit will seriously threaten the development of UK universities. “Brexit will cause a series of issues. It’s a vicious circle: The tax will be raised up for high-quality imported food from countries like Greece and Spain. Therefore, higher living expenses will eventually prevent people like young researchers coming to the UK.”

Umut also points out that EU funding is the first thing to consider for many students who want to study in the UK. “EU doesn’t necessarily need the UK, but the UK does need EU”, he explains, “Many education programs here are fully or partially funded by EU. How will students continue their study if they can’t afford it or don’t have these opportunities anymore?”

Apparently, Umut is not the only one who’s concerned about the living expense and opportunities after Brexit. Theo Darius is a second-year Maths and Finance student from Indonesia. When talking about his post-Brexit plan, he seems unsure. Like many international students who want to look for job opportunities in the UK after graduation, Theo is very concerned about the balance between the living cost and his salary. “Price is going to go up, and that means higher living cost for me”, says he. Although he also claims Brexit has nothing to do with his career plan, Theo is already planning to do a gap year for his internship after his second-year study.

Compared to the high tuition fee that international students currently need to pay, EU students’ tuition fee follows the same standard as the British students. However, this can be a big issue after Brexit. “As EU students, our biggest fear is to pay much higher tuition fee exactly like other international students do”, says Audrey Karout, a French student who’s currently in her second year of study. She thinks, although so far EU students are eligible to apply for student loan which covers the tuition fee, “Probably it might get difficult for the students who come to study in 2 or 3 years”.

However, what worries her the most is the employability issue in the UK. “Will the employers prefer to hire UK citizens over people of other (EU) nationalities? Well, that’d be a problem not to be a UK citizen.” But Audrey thinks now EU citizens can still enjoy some privileges in the UK, and because the immigration policy has not been changed completely, she felt safe that she could apply for permanent residence in the UK. “This (Permanent Residence Permit) will sort of settle my status and right to be here as well”, she said it in a relaxed tone.


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