On 23 June 2016, British citizens voted to leave the European Union. Since then, 'BREXIT' has been making headlines worldwide. So what does it all mean for you, students coming to the UK?
IDP counsellors are providing here answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on this issue.
Why did the UK vote to leave the European Union?
The current British government promised to hold a referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017. There have been growing calls for a vote on whether to stay or leave the EU, as it has expanded and become more powerful. The UK public voted to leave the EU in order to obtain greater economic and political independence. A number of European countries are also not part of the EU and these include Norway and Switzerland.
When will the changes come into place?
There will be no immediate impact. The formal negotiations to leave the EU have not yet begun and, when they do start, the UK’s exit will be a gradual process that will likely take a number of years to be completed.
Who will be affected by the changes?
The result will only directly apply to individuals from other EU countries and not students from outside of the EU. It is therefore very much “business as usual” from our perspective when dealing with our student customers.
Does the UK remain globally competitive?
The UK is one of the world’s leading business locations and the number one destination for inward investment in Europe. The UK is also one of the top ten manufacturers in the world and has the largest industries in Europe for aerospace, life sciences, ICT and the creative industries.
London is placed number one in the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI). The GFCI is a ranking of the competitiveness of financial centres based on over 29,000 financial centre assessments from an online questionnaire together with over 100 indices from organisations such as the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
What does this mean for UK universities? E.g. quality of education
UK universities are almost all public institutions and strictly regulated in an objective way on behalf of the UK Government; this means that the quality of teaching and research is independently assessed on a regular basis.
Teaching and academic standards are monitored by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)
Research quality is currently measured by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)
The UK has some of the oldest universities in the world and a history of higher education dating back almost one thousand years. The UK has produced 118 Nobel Prize Winners, second only to the USA. In order for an institution to gain university status, it requires a Royal Charter signed by the Queen.
There are currently 25 UK universities ranked in the global top 150 and UK degrees are respected and recognised across the world by top employers.
Will it affect my tuition fees?
The UK government does not get involved in setting tuition fees for non EU students, this is left to the discretion of UK universities. So fees for international students are highly unlikely to change dramatically in the near future. In fact, because of the referendum, the value of the GB pound (£) has depreciated against many major world currencies, this will mean that it will in the short term at least make tuition fees cheaper as well as your accommodation and other living expenses more cost effective.
Will I be able to visit European countries on vacation during my studies in the UK?
For many international students, studying in the UK offers a great opportunity to explore nearby European countries at weekends or during University vacations. This is unlikely to change. There are numerous airports throughout the UK often offering convenient discount air travel to major European cities such as Paris and Barcelona.
The Schengen visa is a popular option for international students wishing to travel in Europe.
For more details on this visa route you can visit the UKCISA website.
Will international students be treated any differently? E.g. made to feel unwelcome?
The UK has a long and proud tradition of welcoming international students and their families that goes back well over one hundred years. There are now almost half a million international students studying in the UK, and only the USA has more. There are also tens of thousands of international faculty teaching and carrying out world leading research at UK universities. All of this means that the UK offers a unique multicultural study destination, some examples:
- Outside Asia, the world’s biggest celebration of Chinese New Year is in London – each year there is a parade through Chinatown in the West End.
- Outside India, the world’s largest Diwali celebrations take place in Leicester.
- Although the UK’s official religion is Christianity, the UK is a multi-faith society where other religions are widely welcomed. In the UK, it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their race, nationality, or religion. You will be respected for your own beliefs.
- In large towns and cities across the UK, you will find churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, gurdwaras and other places of worship for all the major faiths. Most universities have prayer space facilities, offer halal and vegetarian food options, different student religious societies and even provide female only accommodation in some case.
- The UK is generally a safe place with low levels of crime and a strict licensing system for gun ownership.
Have more questions about the Brexit or study options in the UK? Talk to your local IDP Education counsellor.