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The Brexit Effect: What It Means for International Students

20 Aug 2018
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When the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, it set off alarm bells across the higher-education sector – and we can understand why! Fast-forward two years and students have still yet to receive any clear instruction or information about the full upshot of Brexit.

Although it’s unlikely that there will be any significant changes for students until March 2019, when the negotiation draws to a close, much remains unclear – so join us as we take a look into what Brexit could mean for international students.


How Will International Students in the UK Be Affected?

The precise terms of the UK’s departure from the EU have yet to be set, so we don’t know for sure what exactly will happen to international students who are currently studying in the UK – but Brexit will likely not have any direct effect on students from outside the EU/EEA who would now or in the future be considered ‘international’.

However, in a ‘hard Brexit’ scenario, where the UK leaves and cuts all ties with the EU, European students are likely to be treated like international students are at the moment, which will mean higher tuition fees and the need to apply for student visas to come and study in the UK.

In short, the immediate effects for non-European students are probably minor. So if you’re classified as an ‘international student’ (as opposed to ‘domestic student’ or ‘EU student’) by UK universities, you can breathe a sigh of relief – your visa requirements and the level of tuition fees will remain the same as they are now.



Are International Students Still Welcome in the UK?

In a public poll conducted by Universities UK, 75% of those who took part expressed that they would like the number of international students in the UK to stay the same or increase.

In addition, only 26% of survey respondents said that they think of international students as immigrants, suggesting that students from outside the EU are not considered a concern for those worried about high immigration levels – so the short answer is yes.

Universities and educators have been very clear about this: international students are welcome in the UK. In fact, UK universities are very much united in the aim of continuing to welcome students and researchers from around the world and ensuring that Brexit does not result in fewer international students and academics coming to the UK.

However, laws and visa policies are handled by the government, and the current administration has publicly considered plans to limit immigration, which includes student immigration, so don’t be surprised if future policies are introduced to make it harder for foreigners to come and study here.



What’s Next?

If you’re hoping to enrol in a UK university in the coming years, we recommend that you check each university’s official website for news regarding Brexit.

Take a look at our blog to learn more about student life in the UK, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.