Things are changing in Britain thanks to the Brexit vote, but one shift being blamed – at least partly – on Brexit, came as a bit of a surprise. The University of Cambridge has seen its European enrollment drop nearly 15 percent since the vote. And those closest to the situation say that this is just the tip of the iceberg. That European enrollment could drops as much as 66 percent.
Some are arguing that this precipitous decrease is a result of the vote. Europeans are opting to stay home or go to the States rather than just across the channel to England.
Much of the blame is being placed on convenience, or, rather, the lack of convenience that will come to pass when Brexit is completed. One of the consequences of Brexit is that Europeans wishing to study in England will now need a visa, whereas, when The UK was a member of the European Union, this was not necessary.
In addition, people expect tuition fees – especially for European students – to increase dramatically, because current European students only pay the same as their Brit classmates. Now they will be forced to pay international tuition … which is up to double the current rate.
All of these concerns came to light when both the University leadership joined colleagues from 200 other universities to explain to the government what Brexit would mean to their current and potential student bodies.
Other concerns included a possible negative impact on academic research funding. If there are fewer foreign students, there may well be fewer foreign donors willing to fund research that will mostly benefit British scholars.
This is a major factor because the UK is second only to Germany in the amount of research funding universities receive from the European Union. Currently, Cambridge receives up to 17 percent of its research funding from the EU.
Another unintended consequence: British students may lose out on the European student exchange program known as Erasmus, which gives both interested Brits and interested Europeans the opportunity to ‘swap’ and attend foreign universities. With a more complicated program in both directions, it could discourage many students from attempting the program.
The issue is not all about convenience, though. According to various media reports, Europeans make up about 5.5 percent of the total number of college students in the UK and bring in nearly $5 billion into the national economy each year. Proponents of Brexit, as well as the politicians who will be forced to manage it, will face the consequences of losing that income if they can’t find a way to make it work…or, at least, find a workaround.