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How will Brexit affect Indian students coming to the UK?

Tuition fees, funding, visas and quotas for Indian students could all be affected by the UK’s vote to leave the EU

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Carly Minsky

July 1 2016
International travel


Student Content Editor Carly Minsky addresses five general questions about the impact of the EU referendum result on international students, which were put to her by The Hindustan Times

1) Will studying in the UK become more expensive or cheaper after Brexit? How and why?

For European Union students who are currently eligible to pay EU rates at UK universities, tuition could become more expensive if they are charged international student rates instead, or if they are not eligible for EU funding and loans. However, there is no clear decision on whether this will happen, and nothing will change before the two years allocated for negotiations over the UK’s exit have passed, according to assurances from Jo Johnson, the universities minister.

For international students from outside the EU who are already required to pay international rates, tuition fees will not be directly affected by Brexit, although there are various factors that could affect the cost of study. If the pound remains weak against students’ home currency, these students ultimately will find themselves better off when they pay tuition in sterling.

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However, if universities suffer financially after Brexit, whether because of a lack of EU funding or because fewer EU citizens decide to study at UK universities, they might decide to increase fees for international students to make up for the deficit.

2) What would be your advice to Indian students aspiring to go for higher studies in the UK and the EU?

Do not make any hasty decisions or change your study plans before it is clear what agreement the UK will make with the EU. Aside from the impact on the market, little is expected to change before the two years for negotiation are up.

While it is possible that there are big changes ahead with respect to tuition fees, research funding, visa restrictions, work opportunities and free movement across Europe, no one currently knows what form these might take or what their impact might be.

3) Do you see a possible change in funding opportunities for Indian students post-Brexit – in terms of education loans, scholarships and fellowships, including those linked to the EU?

Any funding for Indian students linked to the EU might decrease after Brexit, but this is dependent on agreements to be worked out over the next few years. Otherwise, independent funding sources should not be affected.

4) Will there be stricter norms for taking in international students for the UK and the EU? What is the general sense you are getting in the UK? 

The university sector has been calling for UK net migration figures to exclude international students since before the Brexit vote. If international students are included in the government’s migration targets, and if EU students are newly classed as international, there could be tighter restrictions on the number of international students who can take up a place at a UK university.

However, if fewer EU students decide to come to the UK, universities might increase their recruitment of non-EU international students to fill the places.

Despite an apparent desire among the majority of UK voters for tighter controls on immigration, academic organisations, UK universities and the mission groups that represent them will endeavour to protect the status and recruitment of international students, and they are seeking assurances to this effect from the government.

5) How will Brexit affect Indian students interested in studying in the UK, Ireland and the EU? 

Much remains unknown at the moment, but the Times Higher Education Student page will be regularly updated as soon as more information comes in.

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