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Could Brexit have a detrimental impact on international students attending UK universities?

Posted by: Robert Stokes

Six weeks to go before the EU Referendum on 23 June and both sides are campaigning hard.

Many statements have been made during the campaigns about the consequences of leaving the EU; the uncertainty of UK property prices’ fall, the potential weakening of the sterling currency, the effect on gold prices and the overall uncertainty of the British economy. The Bank of England’s Mark Carney, has even suggested a recession could be on the cards.



The student recruitment and retention solutions company Hobsons sent a survey to more than 10,000 overseas students to gauge their attitude towards Britain leaving the EU and to understand how it could effect British university’s international recruitment.
The results revealed that nearly 50% of respondents (1,763 out of 10,000) said that they would find the UK less attractive if it left the EU. Whereas 17% (almost a fifth of respondents) believed it would in fact make the UK more attractive, while 13% did not know.
However, when broken down further into EU and non-EU respondents, the results told a different story. More than 80% of EU international students said they would find the UK less attractive while only 35% of non-EU students agreed with their European counterparts.



According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) 240,767 international students entered the UK in 2014-15, of whom 60,955 were from the EU and 179,812 were from non-EU countries. With that in mind, if we estimate the income lost from the 35% of international students, it would be more than £690m and the broader impact would be even bigger, the survey suggests. 

Understandably the result of the research opened the doors to different and contrasting opinions from both the Leave and Remain Campaigns. The Leave Campaign said it was crucial to ensure there were enough places for young people from the UK, before considering international recruitment. On the other hand the Remain Campaign believes that leaving the EU would make the UK a less attractive destination for studying, resulting in a loss for the UK economy.

Hobson's Managing Director Jeremy Cooper said: “For universities in the UK, the conditions for recruiting international students are tougher than ever before," the BBC reported.
Paul Blomfield MP and co-chairman of the newly formed all-party parliamentary group for international students, called the report "worrying”. "Across the country, hundreds of thousands of jobs would be at risk" – he commented.
Nicola Dandridge, CEO of Universities UK, warned that "leaving the EU and putting up barriers to work and study are highly likely to mean that international students choose to study elsewhere, strengthening our competitors and weakening the UK's universities".

What’s your opinion?


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