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How Will ‘Brexit’ affect students?

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"It's not the single market that we're interested in, we need to know how the proposed 'brexit' from the EU will affect students and higher education..."

This June will probably mark the most important vote of Generation Y's life so far (myself included). But how will staying in, or leaving the EU affect current or prospective university students? We run through the pros and cons of the proposed 'Brexit' as they apply to higher education.

Firstly, when is the referendum?

Thursday 23rd June - make sure you register to vote well before this date.
If you're going to Glastonbury this year, or will be unable to vote on this day, make sure you apply for a postal vote!

Cons (Stay in the EU)

Studying Abroad

Due to the free movement of all EU citizens, we are granted access to education as if we were nationals of the particular country. The student pays the same tuition fees and can apply for the same support, through the same channels. So we can easily apply to study in an EU state institution, and vice versa. If we leave the EU, to study abroad we will have to pay expensive international fees, which could be up to triple that of a native student.

Working in Europe

Free movement also applies to graduate jobs, as we can currently apply with ease to work in an EU nation, as we are a member. However, non-EU citizens must either gain sponsorship from a prospective company, or get a work visa (difficult to obtain). This is how we would have to apply for a job in an EU nation if we were to 'Brexit'.

Research & Teaching Quality

Funding from Brussels is worth around £1 billion per year, says Universities UK, an organisation representing the vice-chancellors of 133 UK universities. For example, the team behind the development of graphene at the University of Manchester originally received funding from Brussels in 2007. The product's market is now worth roughly £250 million (and they won a Nobel Prize!). Furthermore, the organisation argues that 14% of academic staff at UK universities hail from other EU nations, and teaching quality could suffer if we leave the EU.

Smiling / Sad faces


Universities UK argue that 125,000 EU students are attending UK universities, and their fees contribute £2.2 billion per year and 19,000 jobs to the UK economy.

Pros (Leave the EU)

Savings can replace lost funding

The money not spent on EU membership (recently cited as £17 billion) could replace the research funding lost from Brussels, says Angus Dalgleish, an HIV and cancer specialist at St George's University, London. He argues, "We would have a far bigger budget for funding our own science.” It is also thought that money saved from EU student loans could contribute towards the savings too.

No more EU regulations

This could mean, if the UK leaves the EU, the regulations we currently abide by will no longer govern our clinical trials, which could allow universities to broaden their research, and in turn, knowledge of specific areas.

Educational autonomy

As UK universities would no longer need to report to the EU, they will have freedom to teach (and do) as they please, away from the bureaucracy often linked with the European Union.

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