Brexit on Campus – Uncertainty remains for EU students

While the government continues to struggle with passing a satisfactory Brexit deal, the future of EU students studying in the UK remains unclear.

Despite the government’s commitment to “facilitating mobility for students and young people, enabling them to continue to benefit from world leading universities” as stated in its Brexit White Paper, there is hardly much clarity around the status of EU students following the end of the implementation period on December 31st 2018.

So London’s many universities continue facing difficulties in providing their students with a definite answer on what will potentially change following Brexit.

Indeed, there is little doubt that a decrease of prospective students from EU countries would harm the universities, be it in terms of budgets or in terms of retaining a diverse campus. So universities have their own best interests at heart in preventing their EU students from running into Brexit related.

London Student has contacted several universities in London to gain a sense of their attitudes towards this vital issue. They all emphasised the availability of a number of FAQs and other online resources providing enough information to EU students, as well as their support and wellbeing teams, which seek to help all students.

However, despite the information and support provided by the universities, it is quite apparent that not even universities have enough information regarding Brexit and its impact on EU students. In what was considered a success for British universities and EU students, the Department of Education has announced in July that EU students set to start their studies in 2019 have the right to apply for government backed loans for the entirety of their degree.

According to the organisation Universities UK, this confirmation was called for since the start of 2018, highlighting the climate of uncertainty, which both universities and their prospective students face.

Indeed, while it seems that the government will succeed in striking a deal, there still is a chance of a hard Brexit taking place. If that were the case, there is no proposed plan or structure on what is set to happen following March 29th 2019. This potential outcome has been acknowledged by some universities such as UCL, which described its “engagement in contingency planning” if a hard Brexit were to happen.

Yet even a softer Brexit would still cause a number of issues, which remain to be discussed. Six years have passed since the incident at the London Metropolitan University where more than 2 thousand non-EU students were threatened with removal from the country by the UK Border Agency due to problems with attendance monitoring. Will EU students face more stringent measures regarding their university attendance?

Some of the UK’s universities have already proposed the use of technology in the tracking of attendance, such as in Leeds where a campus-wide “beacon system” sought to use students’ smartphones to monitor attendance. In many ways, this is only one example of the many issues, which will most likely spring up following the implementation period or, in case of a hard Brexit, after March 2019. Knowing how quickly the Brexit talks seem to change, EU students should remain aware of the latest developments in both Brexit and at their universities.

Featured Image | Credit: Ed Everett

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