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Tyler Royce-Liddle argues that the negative affect of Brexit on UK Universities is far over-exaggerated, and that exiting the anti-democratic EU may be a positive for many higher education institutions.
I walk down a cold and deserted street. It’s dark and cloudy. A tattered poster advertising cheap holidays to Budapest is swept away in the howling wind. I struggle on; humming Beethoven’s ninth symphony for comfort, my right hand clenched firmly around a miniature magazine cut-out of Jean Claude Juncker (all my other EU iconography was confiscated when World War 3 broke out); towards a dilapidated outlet of Pret a Manger. I step inside, the place is completely empty save an Italian barista, who is in tears; presumably out of anguish at having to go through the same immigration process as a ghastly non-European. I head towards the canteen. The glass is shattered and the lights are flickering. When I reach the glass I see no croissants, pizza or baguettes.
I then wake up in a cold sweat.
‘One year on from the vote, I don’t feel much compromise at all’
This was the recurring nightmare I had in the run-up to the Brexit vote; now over a year ago. But my nightmares became true. The UK actually voted to leave to European Union. One year on from the vote, though, and I am not convinced that my life as a student has drifted into oblivion. So far, in fact, I don’t feel much compromise at all.
‘This depreciation in currency, has, in fact, increased university revenue streams’
The only real burden I’ve had to bear – as one of many privileged students – is the depreciation of Sterling, which rendered my summer slightly more expensive than I would have liked. I wouldn’t describe this, however, as disastrous, considering the relief that British exporters have had from the obstacle of an overvalued Pound (the total value of UK goods and services sold overseas was a record £547.6billion this July).
This depreciation in currency, has, in fact, increased university revenue streams. One report issued by the Higher Education Policy Institute revealed that top British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge each annually benefit from £10m in additional revenue following Brexit, as foreign students are more attracted by the relatively cheaper rates.
Same goes for the city and uk universities, even after Brexit it will remain one of the worlds most important locations
— Sam Jenkinson 🍦 (@samueljenkinson) September 29, 2017
It is also very possible that British universities will benefit from higher rates paid by European students once Britain does actually leave the EU. This clearly isn’t great for European students themselves, but can we really justify charging European students a third of what non-European internationals pay considering non-European countries are relatively much poorer? How is that not discrimination? And yes, it is true that we haven’t actually exited the European Union yet. I wouldn’t deny that this may present British universities (and students) with certain challenges.
Higher education in this country is probably more integrated with Europe than any other industry. Around 16% of academics in British universities are European, and there is much collaboration in research between British and European research institutions; which is greatly assisted by the ease of travel within the EU.
‘Integration with the EU has offset academics coming from places such as the US, Canada and India’
However, in an age of Skype and Facetime, making international journeys for the sake of conferences is becoming obsolete. It is also very much arguable that levelling the playing field for academics being able to work in the UK may create a more meritocratic system. Integration with the EU has offset academics coming from places such as the US, Canada and India in seek of work in British universities.
There is also the issue of funding. Around 2.6% of universities’ total funding comes from the EU, and about 15% research and development funding in universities is from the EU. Brexit would seemingly present these institutions with a fairly hefty blow.
‘Praising the EU for investing in our universities is no different to praising someone who you’ve given £10 for buying you a Twix’
But when we say ‘funded by the EU’, what we really mean is how the EU chooses to spend the reduced amount of money that we get back from contributions. Praising the EU for investing in our universities is no different to praising someone who you’ve given £10 for buying you a Twix. Surely it is a good thing if our own democratically elected government is in control of our hard earned cash, as opposed to a foreign and anti-democratic EU commission?
Sarcasm aside, I did in fact vote ‘leave’, making me one of the measly 15% of the undergraduates who chose to do so. Call me a Fascist or ‘Tory hemorrhoid’, but I feel safely cocooned in the knowledge that voting leave was the most left-wing political decision I have made, and I voted for Jezza Corbs in the last election. In the short-term, the vote has and will present us students with a few little setbacks to our frankly privileged lives.
But the vote also presents us and the nation as a whole with a wealth of opportunities; we can now govern our country ourselves. If you want more funding to be distributed to universities, you can vote for a party that pledges to do so.
Do you think that Brexit is a good thing for our Uni? Let us know: comment, or contact us on Facebook or twitter.