The date is the 23rd of June 2016. The date of the EU Referendum in the UK which was organised by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to determine whether Brexit will occur. In the referendum, 51.9% of the population chose to leave the European Union and ever since it’s been a growing topic amongst Britons and Europeans alike. There have been many concerns and worries about what this holds for the future of the country. But what about what it means to students, and the future of our education system?
What exactly is Brexit?
The UK population voted to leave the European Union and the official motion will be carried out in March 2019, after 2 years of political crunch talks and discussions. Essentially, once the UK leaves the EU, it will also be leaving the EU single market and having no relation to the European Commission. There is a push by the UK PM to maintain a free-trade agreement but making personal deals with each nation has been hard to come by. There is thought to be a deal in place now, but it may not have been what Theresa May was hoping for, with many nations driving a hard bargain. The main points include the euro exit bill that needs to be paid, which will be expected to be paid over the coming years. Secondly, it’s been agreed that UK citizens residing in the UK and those living in other countries will be keeping their rights. Lastly, a hard border won’t be created between Northern and Southern Ireland.
What will this do to the Erasmus program?
The purpose of the Erasmus program was to allow free student movement for those looking to study in other European nations at schools and universities. It was created by the European Commision in the 1980s by 11 members of the EU Commission, including the United Kingdom. Over the years, more than 4 million students have had the opportunity to study abroad without tuition fees and being provided scholarships. However, with the possibility of a hard Brexit taking place, British students won’t benefit from the program and the UK won’t be an option as a destination.
What does this mean for European students?
The UK is known to be a very attractive destination for European students, especially with London being one of the most diverse cities in the world. At the same time, students from the United Kingdom benefitted from having access to other European universities with reduced tuition fees and diplomas of an equivalent level. Once Brexit occurs, students can still apply to study in the UK but the expenses will be more considering they would apply as international students. The fees are considered relatively high in the UK, which is why the Erasmus scheme was so beneficial for European students. It would also mean that students would need to apply for a UK visa which is likely to prevent them from taking up the opportunity.
How about British students?
Of course, with Brexit, it’ll be British students that will be affected the most by this. Many are always eager to go abroad but the financial implications are also likely to prevent them from going abroad to study. It’s very unlikely that the United Kingdom will continue the Erasmus program as it’s due to the leave the European Union. This means that the only other option that could be negotiated, similar to Norway and Switzerland, which would restructure the program which still enables British students to make the most of studying abroad.
For now, the current Brexit negotiation won’t affect those who are currently studying on the Erasmus program. This means that those who joined the Erasmus program during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Erasmus exchanges, the current status quo will still apply. It’s from the end of the 2019 academic year (June 2019) that the program will end.