Having begun the Brexit process with the triggering of Article 50 at the end of March, Britain is now in a state of liminality. With even the suggestion of independence horrifying the clear majority of Britain’s youth: the declaration last June was met with great discontentment.
Demographically, the young as well as those prolifically involved in the education sector, were those most opposed to leaving the union.
Fears rose regarding the future of higher education. Advocates became and still continue to become increasingly concerned over funding; student numbers; exchange programmes; quality of teaching and research collaborations.
Undoubtedly, it is a worrying time for students – as it is for the rest of society. No one can be sure exactly what Brexit will mean for British citizens – let alone British students, and furthermore those interested in travel.
Nevertheless, whilst changes will begin to impact the system, students can rest assured that they will only influence gradually.
Other than the results – which seemed a harrowing overnight shock to a nation – there is thankfully nothing else that will happen so rapidly. Consider that although this decision was actually made last June, it has only recently been acted on. And even that was merely activating the process.
So, for those currently involved in programmes around the continent, you won’t suddenly be hurled back across Europe amid your studies. Instead the triggering of Brexit just means you will need to consider your realistic options for PhD or further master’s programmes you may wish to venture into later.
As well as deciphering exactly where Brexit will leave you in terms of your travelling and funding options, it’s equally as useful – and much more encouraging - to understand just how Brexit may actually benefit you.
As a British student, Brexit will improve your chances of enrolling in a top UK university. Put simply, with less European applicants competing for those coveted spots, your prospects improve significantly. British education is internationally acclaimed, so there is a lot of external competition throughout the education system. However this is especially notable for postgraduates given the prestige of British research. Likewise, postgraduate study also brings a greater sense of independence and students are often ready as well as prepared to move further away from their home.
Another great advantage is that Brexit is likely to make some universities richer. It is predicted that the end to student quotas will make British students and universities better off. Universities are estimated to receive an extra £10m additional revenue following their departure from the EU. This could see a further increase of up to £187m if universities introduce an international rate for European students.
This newfound prosperity will have to be reflected in their facilities and teaching – as well as their international standing. An improved education and recognition of such is clearly a great benefit to British students. It is possible that with this new funding, British universities may become unrivalled institutes of education.
As well as economically strengthened universities, withdrawing from the EU will also aid areas of study.
For example, health professionals are excited to rid the rigour of EU legislation which has adversely affected clinical trials. Therefore, Brexit could be interpreted as a liberating opportunity to truly further British medical studies.
In much the same way, as Professor Alastair Buchan of Oxford University, Radcliffe Department of Medicine notes, departing from the union provides the occasion to reinvent good collaborations. Banished are the obligatory alliances. British academics will be tasked with rebuilding a network, an arduous task certainly – but given the enthusiasm of Buchan, we can assume it is also one that will invigorate many university departments.
Likewise, Brexit is likely to infuse a greater global influence. Where before neighbouring countries were relied on for their resources, facilities, academics and students - now professionals may endeavour to search further afield. Especially given their increased wealth, British universities may source their collaborations worldwide. Similarly, travel opportunities across the globe may also improve due to this factor – as well as obviously, the decreased chance for European study.
It is irrefutable that Brexit will have some negative influences for British students – but no educational policy has ever favoured everyone.
Having said that there are some benefits that can be found in our departure from the European Union. Admittedly these may not be the most astounding, but they are present and what is most significant is the potentiality.
Brexit could increase global travel and alliances. It may strengthen British universities even further and provide a whole host of opportunities never even touched upon within education.