The EU Referendum – what does it mean for education?

It’s voting day! After I’ve posted this, I’m going to go out and vote. Have you voted yet? If you can, do. This is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make today, this year, maybe even in your life. Remember it’s not like a general election, one the decision has been made, there’s no turning back. So vote wisely.

We are a leading hub of education, learning and research and we regularly out perform some of the larger EU countries. But what is the impact on this system if we were to leave the EU?

I have scoured the Internet for information. I’ve tried to do as balanced an argument as possible, but overwhelmingly the information is pro-remain. But here are the arguments as I see it.


  1. International applications

Leading Leave campaigners do not believe that Brexit will stop EU students from applying to UK universities.

However, if the numbers did fall then the increase in fees for ‘international students’ (as they would then be referred to) would help plug the funding gap.

If there was a reduction in EU students then universities could make up the numbers with UK students and even increase the number of students they let into their institutions now that the quotas have been lifted = more money in the bank.

This will also allow more UK students into university and the competition for places will be reduced.

  1. Apprenticeships

Vote Leave has countered claims that leaving the EU would end government plans to expand apprenticeships. They believe that our economy will be stronger and therefore, we will have more funding for apprenticeships and training.

  1. Money 

Priti Patel, Employment Minister (Vote Leave campaigner) said that because we would not have to send money to Brussels, that money could be used ‘on priorities such as universities’. She also said ‘there would be more than enough money to ensure that those who now get funding from the EU, including universities, scientists, farmers, regional funds would continue to get money’.

  1. Research 

We get a fantastic amount of support from the EU for research, but any deal for Brexit would fall under the Lisbon Treaty and areas such as research (particularly collaborations) may remain as they are. 


  1. Money

Universities UK argue that there are more than 125,000 EU students at British universities, which generates more than £2.2 billion for the economy and creates 19,000 job

  1. Funding

Universities UK also mentioned that 14% of academic staff comes from the EU and that research funding from Brussels is worth £1 billion annually.

  1. Opportunities

Erasmus+ is a well-known programme, which allows 250,000 students to have cultural and educational exchanges throughout Europe over 7 years. It provides the UK with funding of just over £1 billion annually.

I just reviewed their site and they are keeping their cards very close to their chests on what will happen if we chose Brexit. Interestingly when a referendum removed freedom of movement for workers, Switzerland had their access to Erasmus+ removed by the EU.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, vice-chancellor at the University of Kent said ‘for UK students, studying and living with students from a variety of cultures around the world is incredibly beneficial’.

  1. International fees

If we left the EU then any student wanting to come to study here would need to pay international fees, which are higher. This could lead to a drop off in those students wanting to come here. It would not only be a shame for those students but we would be reviewed as a weaker sector because of it.


So what’s the conclusion? I think it’s really difficult because there is just so much uncertainty if we leave the EU. But ultimately from the research that I’ve done and the interviews and articles that I have read – we are a much stronger industry in terms of culture, funding, research and opportunities IN Europe as opposed to out.

If you want to make an impact today, then I urge you to go out and vote.




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