How A Hard Brexit Could Affect The International Education Sector

“The future for overseas teachers currently based in the UK isn’t certain”

There are very few people in the sector who relish in the idea of a hard Brexit, but with increasingly tense negotiations it’s looking like a possibility. There are many Brexiteers trying to steer the UK into a hard Brexit because they feel like it’s the best way to deliver the will of the people. Though this might be the case in some respects, it also creates problems.

At the risk of a hard Brexit or no deal at all, it’s important to consider the future. One sector that needs to look into the outcome of hard Brexit is the international education sector.

The Possibility Of A Hard Brexit

Only a few weeks ago the country seemed to be headed in the direction of a “soft” Brexit, meaning it would remain in the EU’s single market for goods while gaining some control over the movement of people. However, a “hard” Brexit would mean the UK would leave the EU single market as the customs union. Due to the cabinet’s resistance to the proposed deal, because it’s too lenient, it’s looking like a hard Brexit isn’t out of the question.

The Impact On The Education Sector

For Teachers

If immigration into the UK becomes harder for European academics, it’s possible that the quality of teaching will decline. The future for overseas teachers currently based in the UK isn’t certain. This might mean that schools and universities need to replace staff who have left. It has been reported that there could be a teacher shortage in the UK because of this.

For Students

Brexit could create hostility from other countries for those UK student studying abroad – although it’s been made clear that there will be a part of the deal that ensures student’s security both in and out of the UK. One of the biggest changes may be that UK students are treated as international students, potentially making fees higher for those who wish to study abroad. This also means that they’d be required to fill out via application forms to enter the country.

“Many potential students now view the UK as unwelcoming after the Brexit vote”

The risk of the steady flow of international students that study in the UK being cut off is possible. Many potential students now view the UK as unwelcoming after the Brexit vote. In fact, applications from across the EU have already dropped by 14% at Cambridge University. This clearly demonstrates the feeling of hostility that international students are receiving from the UK.

Encouraging Announcements

There have, however, been some reassurances. On April 2017, the government announced that EU students applying to study in the UK in autumn 2018 will still remain completely eligible for the same loans and grants as home students. The government went further in July this year to confirm it also applies to those students commencing studies in 2019. This eliminates the need for anyone to apply for indefinite leave to remain, which may have been a possibility if a deal was not struck. Scotland was ahead of the curve by announcing the same terms back in February.

The Future of The Education Sector

Alastair Buchan is the head of Brexit strategy at Oxford University, he says they’ve already noticed a decline in interest even from outside of the EU, “One of the things that we did lose was that nice and easy flow of clinicians and clinician science from Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.”

In order to move forward, no matter what Brexit deal is agreed; universities and the government as a whole need to work on ensuring that international students feel welcome to study in Britain. Similarly, this agreement should benefit the UK students studying abroad.

About the author: Stephen Darwin is a content writer for Immigration Advice Service. IAS is a specialist service that provides corporate and private advice and application assistance, as well as asylum, deportation and removal support.