Brexit: where do university students go from here?

Student Anees Malik is worried about the impact that Brexit will have on her future, despite the fact that she was too young to vote in 2016 

Anees Malik's avatar

Anees Malik

February 13 2020
Brexit: the process that must not be named


Being a British student living in Germany for my year abroad this year has been quite interesting. Add to it the fact that I am a German national who had previously been residing in England for the past 10 years makes it all the more complicated. I spent the first 10 years of my life in Germany and then the following 10 in England. This has allowed me to gain good insight into how the two countries feel about the big B word. So where do I even begin to talk about Brexit?

I will start on 31 January 2020. Brexit has been given so much importance in the past few years. Deals were created, not agreed upon and Brexit kept being delayed.

So sitting in Germany on the last day of January 2020, I honestly expected more. A change in the wind, more discussions and definitely more news broadcasting. However, it was simply announced. Then nothing.

Here in Germany nobody is talking about it anymore. There might be a small mention of Brexit on the news, but that is about it.

One of my colleagues in Germany once asked my opinion on Brexit and I informed him that when the Brexit vote happened I and many of my peers were too young to vote, and yet we are the generation that is going to be affected by this decision. My opinion on Brexit is that I am afraid of the changes it will bring. My step-mum once compared the Brexit process to a nasty divorce and divided it into three stages:

1. Pre-divorce – before 31 January 2020
Here Brexit was given a lot of importance and all the fights and disagreements happened between Great Britain and the European Union.

2. Divorce handed in – period after 31 January 2020
This date marked the start of the silent period. This was the time where everyone was working out the details of Brexit, drawing up deals and contracts.

3. Divorce finalised – once all the deals and contracts are made between the UK and the world
Once everything is sorted out, the repercussions of Brexit will take place. All of the deals and agreements will come into effect.

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As we are currently in stage two, a lot of uncertainties are present. This is very worrisome for me, my family and friends. Most of my friends who are also on their year abroad do not wish to stay in England after they have completed their last year of university. One wishes to study in the Netherlands, one wishes to remain in Germany and the third one wants to move to Austria.

We have sat down and discussed Brexit and its consequences many times, and always end up concluding that none of us wishes to remain in a country that has no clear future plans. We do not wish to stick around when the times turn dark and change will be implemented.

Even my university was not able to provide us with much help. While we were always encouraged to ask questions if we were unsure about anything, the answers were mostly “we don’t know either”. There was a huge debate at my university over whether we would receive Erasmus funding, because Erasmus only applies to the European Union and if Britain exits that realm, funding is not guaranteed. However, the university did pull through and stated that, should Erasmus be no longer available for England, the university would assemble the funds for the students itself.

To be honest, I am a little afraid of how things will change once I go back to England for my final year of university. However, I am also a little excited to be part of the decade of such huge historical change. Brexit is going down in history. This decision will be recorded in textbooks and analysed in the coming years. While I personally believe Brexit is a bad idea, there is no denying that the world is changing, and we must adjust in order to survive it.

Read more: Students react to EU referendum results 

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