Reassessing the Impact of Brexit on Higher Education

Reassessing the Impact of Brexit on Higher Education

  • 31 August 2017
  • Posted in: Education

When Britain leaves the European Union in 2019, the UK’s higher education sector could slip to bottom of the class. 

The UK is home to some of the world’s leading higher education institutions. Over the course of its rich history, Britain has cultivated an environment that has allowed academia and universities to flourish; and its membership of the European Union has been integral in preserving and bolstering its world-class reputation.

The higher education sector contributes an annual output of £73billion to the British economy, provides 750,000 jobs and generates 2.8% of gross domestic product. The research and innovation arm of the HE sector is particularly renowned amongst its international contemporaries, producing 15.9% of the world’s most widely-cited academic articles; with the UK’s scientific research institutions ranked second in the world in terms of quality academic research produced.                 

The EU contributes significantly to the UK’s research and innovation sector, providing funding, facilities and academic researchers to an industry that generates well over £10billion in annual export earnings.

Widely regarded as the most successful initiative to come from the European Union, the student exchange programme Erasmus has provided 15,000 British students with the opportunity to study abroad and welcomed 27,000 EU nationals to Britain’s universities.  

The UK’s immigration policy has come under increased scrutiny since the Brexit referendum campaign. As of 2017 and until 2020, EU member state students coming to the UK will pay fees in-line with domestic students (capped at £9,250). However, changes to Britain’s immigration policy could potentially result in EU students paying up to £35,000; an increase that, according to projections from the Higher Education Policy institute, could result in a 57% drop off in EU students coming to the UK.

Innovative research, student exchange programmes, staff mobility, tuition fees and immigration are all threatened by the ambiguous nature of Brexit.

As such, Open Forum Events is collaborating with some of the UK’s leading authorities in higher education to present Brexit: A Degree of Clarity to provide practical analysis, insightful opinion, engaging debate and clarity on the challenges facing Britain’s universities and institutions.

The Russell Group, an assembly of executive representatives from some of the UK’s leading higher education institutes recently made a ten-point proposition to Prime Minister Theresa May, outlining what they believe to be the most pressing challenges posed to universities by Brexit. The Russell Group’s Head of Policy, Jessica Cole said:

“Brexit is causing uncertainty and anxiety for EU staff, who need clarity over their future rights as soon as possible. There are around 25,000 members of staff from other EU countries at Russell Group universities delivering high-quality teaching and cutting-edge research. We value our EU colleagues and want them to stay.” 

Some of the requirements put forth in the proposal were:

  • EU students and academics who return to the European Union for two years or more after graduating must not lose their ‘settled’ status.
  • Cross-border recognition of EU and UK qualifications post-Brexit.
  • A system that processes applications efficiently, placing a minimum burden on applicants.
  • EU nationals who already have permanent residence in the UK should have their status transferred automatically to settled.

The concerns raised by the Russell Group will be prevalent throughout the Brexit: Graduating from the European Union event; delegates and speakers alike will be analysing the government’s response to the ten proposals, providing opinion on the direction of Brexit negotiations and taking part in relevant policy debate.       

Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education believes that alongside having a damaging effect on British universities’ standing on the world stage, it will create a knock-on effect that could harm the economy, stating:

“Brexit chaos means that universities are in danger of losing some of the best staff and students without clarity about their right to remain in Britain. British universities are one of our most successful and fastest growing export industries, so this is harming our economy as well as our education system.”

This conference is a stop-over on the arduous journey that navigating Brexit has become; a chance to exchange ideas, take stock of our current position and plot the voyage ahead. Open Forum Events are committed to providing actionable solutions for the public sector in an age of constraint and austerity, with that in mind, we hope you will join us at Brexit: Graduating from the European Union and any future events as we work towards a stronger public sector in the national interest.

  • Brexit
  • higher education
  • politics
  • research projects
  • immigration
  • tuition fees