Why should universities worry about Brexit?

No, no, no! I will not discuss whether Brexit is good or bad for the UK as it’s a political question and a very personal choice for so many.

However, what is important is how universities will be impacted if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

UK universities rely heavily on foreign students. Foreign students not only pay much higher fees, but also they are much higher spenders than native UK students.

Unfortunately for the last 2 years the number of foreign students has started to fall, especially for postgraduate degrees (source: The Guardian). It’s becoming too expensive to study in the UK, the uncertainty of Brexit talks and the falling pound has not helped. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, this negative trend is likely to spread to Undergraduate courses too.

Whilst some universities are being more proactive and striking deals with foreign universities to ensure that students will still come over, other elements of university value chain are not doing so well. For example, the research sector, who relies heavily on the European Research Council’s funding, is likely to suffer. It is estimated that the UK will lose access to about £600m a year which is largely spent on climate change and cancer research.  One mitigate is that there is the Horizon 2020 funding that has been secured in case there is no deal.

All of us, no matter how we voted, are hoping that a deal with be struck with the EU. We also hope that foreign students will be encouraged to come to the UK, as not only do they enrich our culture and diversity but they are also a very important source of income for universities.

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