Brexit and UK Higher Education:All the Facts Revealed

Brexit and UK Higher Education:All the Facts Revealed

Unless you live under a huge rock, you have definitely heard about Brexit. Few people, including students understand what Britain withdrawing from the European Union (EU) would mean for everyday life and more so, the education sector.

For formality’s sake, let’s fist understand where it all began. The European Union  was formed in 1993, after the Maastricht Treaty ratification.  If you took your history lessons seriously, you need no more details. Britain has been a devoted member of the union but was clear from the beginning, since Margaret Thatcher, that they were open to any future changes  deemed necessary for the good of the country.

Well, it looks like that change is about to happen.  The June 23 rd  EU referendum will be determine if Britain makes good it’s threat to leave the EU.

What does Brexit mean for higher education and the education sector as a whole?

Here are a few  excerpts from The Guardian, just  to give you an idea of the possibilities that Brexit presents to UK students. Maybe this will help you decide how to vote, come June 23rd.

EU Academic Workforce and Funding

“About 15% of the UK academic workforce comes from other EU countries. More than 200,000 UK students and 20,000 UK university staff have spent time abroad through the Erasmus exchange programme. While the government would save money through not having to provide student loans or maintenance funding for EU students, the UK would probably lose access to EU research funding and also to student mobility schemes.”

“The UK is one of the largest recipients of research funding in the EU. In the current EU research round, entitled Horizon 2020, the UK secured 15.4% of funds, behind only Germany. And British researchers are increasingly international in their collaborations. Since 1981 the UK has risen from 15% of its papers being international (and 85% domestic authors only) to more than 50% today.”

There’s more “..nearly 1,000 projects at 78 UK universities and research centres are dependent on funds from the European Research Council (ERC). The UK has more ERC-funded projects than any other country, accounting for 22% of all ERC-funded projects – more than 25 recipient countries put together.”

“Ultimately, universities and students would probably lose out – universities are concerned about their research funding. But the government would save money on student finance.”

It therefore doesn’t come a surprise that all UK universities are against Brexit, owing to the negative effects it will have on higher education. The President of Universities UK  who is also the  University of Kent’s Vice-chancellor Dame Julia Goodfellow, has lamented that British students face the risk of missing out on the ‘best minds’  of  lecturers and professors across Europe.

“Membership of the European Union is good for our universities and good for the science and research that improves people’s lives.” She added.

We can only wait and see how this unfolds. We can however say with certainty that the UK student needs stability and an enabling environment to pursue their academics. Whether or not Brexit becomes a reality, higher education needs to remain accessible and sufficiently facilitated.


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