June 24th, 2016, a day that in British history at least, will be recorded as a cornerstone. Many say things have changed since then, further implying that the whole social landscape has changed since the result. In this piece, I will try to bring in an outside perspective, on Brexit, but most importantly on what the Higher Education sector is going wrong again.
The Universities in the UK have been mostly pro-EU. Rightly so, they receive a massive amount of funding through European funds. Plus the student number it attracts from the continent are also significant. The funding for programmes like Erasmus, which gives grants to students to study and work in various countries, comes from the EU. For many UK students, the European Union was convenient, saving them the bureaucratic process of visa application and also further job prospects in the European countries. Similar, if not the same, can be said about the European Students.
Failure to capitalise old friends
In this whole debate, one student group was largely left behind. One group which could have potentially helped to swing the vote in remains favour: The International commonwealth students. Even though EU students are called International students, they have the same rights as UK home students. This left the “real” international students in a personal limbo, they have to support an organisation which does not directly benefit all of them.The commonwealth residents have voting rights at par with the UK citizens but, besides this, they do not have equal rights as that of UK citizens, or even the European citizens.
Brexit is not the pandora’s box
Recently, Brexit has been made into the main culprit for (assumed) fall in International student numbers. Some further claiming that Brexit has led to the perception that the UK is anti-immigration. Even though this seems the most plausible and logical conclusion, let me ask you one question: When was UK government ever pro-immigration in the recent times?
Nothing has changed much paradox.
It seems easy to say that the whole British landscape has changed because of Brexit. The actual story seems a bit duller. It is fascinating to see how the British government, then under Cameron, didn’t reach out to the International or Commonwealth students. What is more intriguing, currently, the Universities are using the same old strategy of calling themselves international, but haven’t been taking any big initiatives to promote that. It seems the sun has finally set on the last hope of the empire: the British universities.
Thanks, Kathrin Werner for the picture.
Here are some references