Friday

19th Apr 2019

Opinion

UK universities must brace for a 'no-deal' Brexit

  • Not just the Erasmus+ exchange scheme, but billions of euros in loans from the European Investment Bank could be up in the air (Photo: Wikipedia)

A no-deal Brexit will have catastrophic consequences for universities across the UK.

There would be too much to lose if we didn't negotiate a deal with the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Take Erasmus+ for example, which facilitates European opportunities for UK students, staff and institutions, and is a brilliant example of how engaging in established international programmes can boost short-term mobility, employment opportunities, and help disadvantaged students get more out of their degrees.

Some 55 percent of all UK students who go abroad do so through the scheme and that number grows year-on-year, so why should we throw it away?

A deal must be struck with the EU.

If a transitional period is negotiated, a successor programme would be legislated in 2020, but in the event of a no-deal Brexit, there wouldn't be an initiative of such magnitude for many years to come.

When Switzerland organised their Erasmus+ replacement scheme in 2014, some EU institutions refused to re-sign the partnership because they were no longer on a recognised programme.

Generations of students could lose out if the UK goes down the same path.

Of course, it's not only Erasmus plus that is at risk from a no-deal Brexit. It is essential the government continue arrangements between the UK and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to safeguard future funding.

Billions of euros have been invested in modernising campuses, but future loans will be up in the air.

Interest rates on these loans could sky-rocket and UK universities would be left with few sustainable development projects that improve both student satisfaction and course-specific facilities, which in turn promote valuable research exports.

Without long-term access to EIB funds, universities could be forced to seek funding from elsewhere – including pressuring the government to lift the tuition fee cap – which only negatively impacts students, especially working-class and poorer young people.

Academics have as much to fear as students if the likes of hard Brexiteer MPs Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg get their way.

Building an immigration system in which talented academia can freely travel without unnecessary obstacles is, without a doubt, impossible without negotiating with the EU.

It is assumed there will be problems in Northern Ireland and in places like Dover over imports, so you can imagine the challenges EU nationals could face flying into the country.

Building post-Brexit policy

The UK must develop a post-Brexit immigration policy that helps individuals teach and study in the UK – and they can start by removing international student numbers from overall immigration figures.

Brexiteers will insist on having non-European partners invited equally to Europeans (as if they're not already), as they attempt to establish further ties with the US and others, but this rhetoric dismisses the fact we invest in research and innovation through overseas aid, which is something they'd be keen to axe.

There's very little research to suggest a no-deal Brexit will be good for universities.

Indeed, a lot of fear-mongering has come from Brexiteers: the Daily Mail has attacked "Remainer universities" and a Tory MP suggested lecturers have an inherent anti-Brexit bias in their teaching.

A report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) determined top UK universities could bring in additional income from charging EU students the same as international students, but this could deter EU students from studying in the UK - and less successful universities would not be able to offset the loss in EU funding with additional tuition fees.

Resistance against all this is strong from students.

The National Union of Students is campaigning for a 'People's Vote' because an overwhelming number of students and students' unions have asked them to.

Students don't want Brexit, let alone a no-deal scenario, and we shouldn't be forced to endure the disastrous consequences of a failing government.

If there was another vote tomorrow, there would be a huge increase in the number of young people voting remain, and that instills hope of a better future.

Reece Stafferton is a postgraduate British student at De Montfort University in the UK

Brexit deal 'within reach' says Barnier

Michel Barnier said the UK and the EU can close the withdrawal deal next week - if British prime minister Theresa May agrees to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union.

How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament

British plans to - maybe - take part in EU elections risk legal chaos in the next European Parliament, which could be resolved only by treaty change - an unlikely prospect.

Press freedom and the EU elections

We are campaigning for the next European Commission to appoint a commissioner with a clear mandate to take on the challenge of the protection of freedom, independence and diversity of journalism.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us