Higher Education and Research
The EU has made an enormous contribution to the success of the UK education sector – in 2015 non-UK EU nationals made up 6.4% of UK university’ students and generated £5.1 billion according to a London Economics report.
In 2014-2015, British universities received more than £836 million in EU grants and contracts. This funding has contributed nearly £577 million to the UK’s GDP and research funding to universities is responsible for generating 10,000 jobs per year.
Movement of students and staff
Brexit has implications for British residents teaching or studying abroad and EU residents teaching or studying in the UK. The number of UK students studying in EU countries through the Erasmus+ scheme was 15,600 in 2015. The UK Government wants to continue Erasmus as it currently exists but there are significant questions that have yet to be resolved concerning budgets and who is going to pay. Meanwhile the Government had made clear that it wants to include international students studying in the UK under the current immigration target of 100,000 per year, something that has received additional support from the Migration Advisory Committee.
The EU has a fairly limited role in regulating education, with UK education policy and legislation created domestically. The main influence is in partnerships and initiatives such as the Erasmus programme and related research projects.
The UK is a signatory of the Bologna Process – with the goal of creating a harmonised education process across the EU, meaning UK citizens can study abroad subject to the same tuition fees and support as the citizens of the country they’re visiting. The European Qualifications Framework also exists to link different member states’ qualification systems and frameworks ensuring each states’ qualification standards are recognised by other states.
• British academic institutions face losing EU funding grants. The share of European funding allocated to British universities has fallen in recent months as the UK prepares to depart the European Union. In addition to this British researchers have lost out on €136m since February last year.
• Foreign students are already looking at the UK higher education sector less favourably. 39 percent of respondents from the EU in this year’s International Student Survey said they found the UK a less appealing study destination because of the decision to leave the EU.
• Brexit has also affected how students from outside the EU perceive the UK, with 10 percent of non-EU students also saying that they’d be put off studying in the UK.
• UK universities and academic institutions are world leading and still capable of attracting high quality overseas students. Many overseas students may be required to pay increased tuition fees, meaning the total revenue secured by UK institutions could go up rather than down following Brexit.
• UK universities may choose to circumvent the Brexit process by establishing university branches within the EU.
• UK institutions may seek partnerships further afield – moving into the American and Chinese education markets for example where considerable growth can be pursued.