In the wake of the EU referendum, there is still one word burning on the majorities’ lips: Brexit. The vote itself garnered a legion of mixed responses, varying between the despondent minority who asked themselves — and others — questions over what seemed to be the decline of economy to the inspired smiles of those who had campaigned and fought for their desired result. What, however, does the affectionately termed Brexit mean for students?
Well, to begin with, there actually are some encouraging suppositions to the referendum result. It has been argued that should less EU students pack up their bags and relocate themselves to study in the UK, we, as a country, would be no worse off financially as we have home students who would be given the merry opportunity to offset the drop of EU applicants. In other words, this would mean that more students attained from the UK would be given an opportunity to attend university, which would otherwise seem impossible to some.
Nonetheless, it isn’t all good news with Brexit, and there are more than a few apprehensive qualms that come hand-in-hand with the decision. To begin with, the unfortunate rearrangement of Visas for European countries may deter intelligent academics from university in the UK. The NUS vocalized that “students live in an increasingly globalized world”, arguing that students themselves benefit from the multi-cultural avail that EU students bring with them. “We know that we can’t always make big changes from our small island”, NUS stated, which is only concurred by Dame Julia Goodfellow, vice chancellor at the University of Kent.
Elsewhere, the clarity as to whether the Erasmus exchange programme will continue is, as of yet, unclear. Over 200,000 of British students have largely benefitted from the programme, providing funds for undergraduates to travel from the UK to alternate EU countries as a part of their degree. The Erasmus exchange programme is, in itself, a monumentally unique and remarkable opportunity for students, and — for now, at least — is something that remains lamentably up in the air for the future. The fact that Brexit does, to some extent, restrict the movement of UK students is something of a Gordian knot for some, and does, unfortunately, seem to revoke more than a few opportunities that a few have since been freely given.
As for funding, educators are likely suffering from the undisclosed anxieties that revolve around what ought to be done about the EU’s funding towards UK universities. While not entirely concrete, the indefiniteness of whether or not the extra 15% of funding will actually make it into the accounts of our publicly funded institutions is a reason for unease, and is likely something that will be lost as a repercussion of the referendum. On the hesitation of money and funding, EU students will hereon be recruited as international students, which will, woefully, mean that their fees will go up substantially, in some measure.
Pushing Brexit aside, the recent changes to the Disability Students’ Allowances will now be severely limited, a slash that many educators were not expecting. Following huge cuts to benefits and support for people with disabilities, universities, as publicly funded institutions, are struggling to continue the inequalities that disabled students face. As of several diversity acts, it is by decree of law that publicly funded foundations should behave with equality always resting at the crane of their minds — something that is proving increasingly difficult, as the mark that universities should hit seethes silently out of their reach.
Unearthing ways to find and fund equipment and personal support to students with difficulties is growing as a near unfeasible task, and as a consequence universities are sat, arms outstretched, seeking charity towards helping their disabled students. Should they not meet their mark they are to face Equalities Act issues, though it should be noted that those who suffer from autism spectrum conditions and mental health issues are likely to be greatly impacted, particularly when compared to students who require specialist equipment due to physical and sensory disabilities.
Finally, what can be said about the withdrawal of the student admissions cap? The elimination of the cap in the 2015-2016 academic year continues to have an vulnerable impact on the functioning methods of Higher Education. The omission of the cap means the following for students and, consequently, universities: over-recruiting, overcrowding and compromised standards. Over-recruiting and overcrowding, naturally, go hand-in-hand — as universities over-recruit students into their institutions, creating new bearings for them to fill and take, so the problem of overcrowding is introduced like pestilence: as more and more students filter into universities, they further struggle to find them their places, and so begins the cycle of throngs ever growing, increasing and enlarging. As for compromised standards, what exactly does that mean for universities? Well, it means exactly what you think it does — universities are being forced to halfway their standards for acceptance, lowering their requirements for the admittance of more students. With this, universities warn that this is a growing problem, something which they would gladly ease away from.