“We will be losing out financially because non-UK students, who often tend to build a life here, contribute a lot to the economy.”

The UK voted to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016, with the country’s current prime minister Theresa May starting the two-year negotiation period nine months later by invoking Article 50 on March 29 this year.

May, which had previously announced the UK would leave the EU single market, surprisingly called for a general election to be held on June 8. Given the circumstances, there is still a significant degree of uncertainty about what will happen to the over 3m EU citizens currently living in the UK, including many academics and lecturers.

The IPF asked young people currently studying in the UK for their views on whether the possibility of EU academics leaving British universities could affect the quality of teaching, and potentially put off both EU and UK students from studying there.


Tamanna Miah, 23-year-old campaigner and chair of trustees for NOMAD, studying Politics and Governance & Media and Communications at Canterbury Christ Church University

Brexit will affect teaching because of the freedom of travel and visas restrictions EU academics might face. The worry is that we are going to lose the talented people from outside the UK who bring their skills here and we are just going to have the same people doing the same things.

Brexit will also impact on research opportunities, including accessing research and journals which UK universities would not necessarily be able to access if it was not for the broad range of countries and individuals in the EU. It could affect academics’ chance to conduct research in collaboration with others around the EU, as well as British universities’ participation in programmes such as Erasmus.

There are two sides of the coin.

Students might decide to study somewhere else due to how Brexit will affect university fees and the procedures they would have to go through to study here, and as a result the UK could lose out on fees from international students.

However, while Brexit will have an impact on British universities’ reputation, people might still decide to study in the UK because teaching is first class and education is something worth investing in. People will be more cautious and may take the opportunity to research more of what is around and consider other possibilities. We will be losing out financially because non-UK students, who often tend to build a life here, contribute a lot to the economy and contribute a lot to our society during and after their degree. 

I think some specific groups living in other EU countries will find studying in the UK after Brexit twice as hard because of increased university fees and reduced access to funding support, including refugees and people from black and ethnic minorities or vulnerable working class backgrounds.

Joe Worthington, 23-year-old student attending a Middle East Studies MRes, integrated into a PhD, at the University of Exeter

As a student myself who voted Leave, I cannot see any reason for academics to move away from their positions here in the UK. Despite the constant warnings, it is unlikely that funding will be blocked from the EU, and the jobs for EU academics will still exist after the UK leaves the EU, because we still need the important research that they carry out.

Therefore, where EU academics are concerned, the quality of education will not be affected because they won’t leave, and in fact, less research restrictions from the EU could bring more EU academics to UK institutions. 

The UK university sector is world renowned for its freedom and quality, and if it can attract non-EU students in such high numbers, then EU students will still want to come and study here. No EU universities can compete with Oxbridge and the Russell Group universities for legacy and prestige, so Brexit will have no negative effects.

Graziella Cannaò, 22-year old student of Media & Communication at Kingston University

EU academics could easily find another occupation elsewhere in the EU – in places such as The Netherlands and Scandinavia, where most of the courses are taught in English. I believe that EU academics potentially leaving could affect the quality of teaching at British universities, which would lose great potential.

Students are definitely going to choose other countries over the UK. 

First of all because tuition fees are more convenient, secondly because they would be offered better quality of teaching, an EU-friendly environment and the opportunity to learn from the best academics in the EU and the world.