Back in the 1960s there was a great deal of talk about the Brain Drain. Then it was about losing highly qualified young Britons to commerce and scientific institutions in the USA.
Now it’s back in the news – but in a different way.
The UK has established a reputation for a very high standard of education. This attracts students from all over the world to our schools and universities. The scholars that graduate often stay in the UK and are valuable assets to the UKs institutions and industries. But is this about to change?
Now the UK is facing an exit from the European Union does this mean that fewer students will want to – or be able to – study in the UK? Instead of free access for EU students will the visa requirements discourage those talented young people to get their education elsewhere?
It’s not just about getting a visa, it affects student loans and could put an education in the UK, no matter how desirable, out of reach for students who don’t have the funds to pay the fees and living expenses up front themselves.
Of course, a lot of this is conjecture, as, until the Brexit negotiations are complete we don’t know what the final situation will be. The Department of Education has announced that students beginning courses in autumn 2018 will still get loans. However, European students have to start making decisions now – if they embark on a 3 or 4 year course of study in September 2017, by the time they complete year two their situation may have changed dramatically.
Some universities are already reporting a drop in applications from EU students.
There are two strong reasons for providing easy access to the UK for students from other countries:
- They could add considerable value to our economy as high performing employees after qualification.
- They cumulatively contribute around £2bn to the UK economy during their student days.
Let’s hope the politicians don’t shoot themselves in the foot on the journey out of the EU and make the best decisions for the British economy.