Brexit Expected to Cause Drop in EU Applicants to UK Universities | Top Universities

Brexit Expected to Cause Drop in EU Applicants to UK Universities

By Staff Writer

Updated June 30, 2020 Updated June 30, 2020

By Josephine West

Fewer EU students will apply to UK universities as a result of Brexit, according to a new report into the effects of the EU referendum.

Many students surveyed across Europe for the report, published by the QS Intelligence Unit, said they felt Brexit showed immigrants are no longer welcome in the UK. This was particularly true among students in Spain and Italy, with many telling interviewers they felt personally insulted by the EU referendum result. They were also scathingly critical of the lack of certainty surrounding Brexit, attributing blame to the UK government’s lack of transparency and communication on the matter.

Over 1,000 students were asked for their opinions on Brexit in the report, with interviews carried out in 11 cities across Europe. Responses were overwhelmingly concerned or pessimistic, with only 12% of students in France, 10% of students in Germany, 7% of students in Italy, and 6% of students in Spain saying they believe Brexit will have a positive impact on their career. Interestingly, many of the more positive responses may have been motivated by a sense of opportunity. For example, some students, particularly in Frankfurt, felt that London’s financial district was set to relocate in their favour and championed the economic benefit to their own countries.

Although wider perceptions about the UK had not completely changed, a common point of discussion was that universities outside the elite Russell Group could suffer more from leaving the EU. According to students, middle tier universities such as Lancaster or Reading University would struggle to attract international students in the face of rising fees, visa restrictions, and funding reductions.

What should universities do now?

The report, titled The Effects of the EU Referendum on the UK’s International Student Market, recommends several ways British institutions can target students from the EU and keep their international student figures high. Reassuring students and setting out some key communication strategies is crucial to calming fears. Fees also need to be addressed, with proposals for financial aid and scholarships clearly set out. Transparency will go a long way to rebuilding relationships, and universities that adopt a personal touch for different countries at university fairs and grad school events may see good results.

If UK universities can counteract negative perceptions about the UK being unwelcome to immigrants, and make clear the British HE system’s door is wide open, a significant drop in EU applicants could yet be prevented.

This article was originally published in June 2017 . It was last updated in June 2020

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