‘People in this country have had enough of experts’ Michael Gove famously proclaimed before the Brexit referendum. Now, with the UK on the cliff-edge of leaving the European Union and facing a consequential ‘brain drain’ of fleeing academics, Open Forum Events is collaborating with some of the UK’s leading higher education experts and strategists to present Brexit: A Degree of Clarity.
Changes to infrastructure, funding, international-intake, mobility and research are on the horizon. Institutions across Britain are already reporting the toughest ever student recruitment season as a decline in UK school leavers choosing to continue their studies and a drop-off in interest from EU students has resulted in a sharp fall in university applications for the first time since 2012.
Brexit: A Degree of Clarity will analyse, strategise and find compromise amidst one of the most complex social, economic and political shift in British history. In contrast to the general tone of pessimism that has been set by Brexit, A Degree of Clarity is looking to identify not just the consequences, but also the potential opportunities afforded to the UK’s Higher Education sector by leaving the European Union.
Open Forum Events have sourced industry-leading experts to present their vision for the delivery of post-Brexit Higher Education, how to alleviate the strains put on the sector by the result of last year’s referendum, as well as the possible benefactors of a positive post-Brexit landscape; a weaker pound and the opportunity to strike up new partnerships with institutions from established and emerging nations.
Britain’s Universities face a tumultuous period to say the least. When 51.89% of the electorate voted to leave the European Union on June 23rd, 2016, no one could pinpoint the effects of doing so with much, or any clarity.
Now, more than a year later, a clear vision of post-Brexit Britain is still clouded by the bureaucratic fog between Parliament and Brussels.
How will changes to immigration policy affect UK institutions? Will British universities still have access to European research funding? Can the current tuition fee-system withstand Brexit? What should an exit deal include as it pertains to the HE sector?
With the looming prospect of leaving the EU, Britain has a top of the class reputation to maintain amidst a competitive, expanding international market.
The UK boasts world-leading universities and staff that provide some of the most prestigious expertise in academia; contributing an annual output of £73billion to the British economy and generating 2.8% of UK GDP. Universities create more than 750,000 jobs for domestic and international workers, resulting in £11billion of export earnings for the UK on an annual basis.
Though the UK is home to just 0.9% of the world’s population, it is responsible for producing 15.9% of the world’s most widely-cited academic articles and its scientific research institutions are ranked second in the world in terms of quality academic research produced. After Brexit, the UK’s access to vital research funding is under threat, with the British government possibly having to front £2.2billion to negate the financial backlash on the research and innovation sector.
Amongst the issues facing Higher Education in the wake of Brexit is the funding and fees of university qualifications. A report commissioned by the Higher Education Policy Institute forecasts an increase in costs for EU students after 2020 that could see them paying comparable fees as those studying here from further abroad; potentially resulting in a 57% drop-off in European enrolments. Currently, EU students are eligible to pay the same tuition fees as domestic students (capped at £9.250). However, following Britain’s exit, students from the 27 European Union member states could face tuition fees in line with international students from further abroad; up to £35,000.
British institutions are facing the possibility of losing their right to participate in student exchange and research programmes like Erasmus and Horizon 2020; potentially tasking the UK’s government with the mammoth undertaking of establishing alternative domestic schemes to replace them. Since its inception in 1987, three million Europeans have participated in the Erasmus programme, with 16,000 Britons spending a university semester abroad each year and more than 20,000 EU students coming to the UK. The student exchange programme is one of the most successful EU policies ever enacted and has even created an ‘Erasmus generation’; one million babies born from couples who met on the scheme. However, the UK government is yet to commit itself to future involvement in the programme despite non-EU states such as Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway participating under Article 24 of the Erasmus Regulation.
Student mobility isn’t the only free-movement based problem British universities have encountered since the referendum result; 32,000 professors and academic staff from European Union member states working in the UK are seeking further assurances that their jobs will be secure when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
Open Forum Events has assembled a selection of industry experts to contribute insight, strategy and leadership in tackling the gigantic blue and yellow shadow looming over Britain’s Higher Education sector.
Changes to Britain’s immigration policy could be one of the defining actions of the Brexit process. The subsequent reaction could signal a significant drop-off in numbers of EU-nationals coming to study in the UK; up to 57% if projections from the Higher Education Policy Institute are correct.
Students from the remaining 27 EU-member states face the possibility of losing their quasi-home status that permits them to pay the same tuition fees (up to £9,250) as British students. Instead, the prospect of being charged fees in-line with non-EU international students (up to £35,000) is a real possibility.
The impact of immigration change on the UK’s universities will be significant if the nation follows the path set by supporters of a ‘hard Brexit’. As such, it will benefit the higher education system to be prepared for the most hard-line version of Brexit and scale-back its reaction accordingly.
Trump, Brexit, fake-news, post-truth, alternative facts; the world has been barraged by exaggeration and embellishment as of late.
In the age of ‘post-truth’ it can be dizzying to wade through the stacks of facts, figures and statistics quoted over the airwaves and social media. This session will concentrate on the genuine data correlated by legitimate organisations in the wake of Brexit; attempting to paint the most accurate picture of its impact on the sector.
To close the conference out, attendees will have the opportunity to field questions to a panel of experts, consolidating the information they have picked up over the course of the event.
This session is for the audience to be heard rather than listen, at this point, the conference will have painted a clear picture of what is in store for the Higher Education sector after Brexit. The attendees can offer suggestions on what they believe an exit deal should incorporate for the sector as it pertains to; immigration policy, research funding, tuition fees and student mobility.
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