Brexit is putting international students off studying in the UK, researchers warn
Is Brexit affecting international students’ decision about studying in the UK? Source: Shutterstock

There is a lot of uncertainty over the short-term and long-term effects of Brexit, including for universities who face many challenges ahead.

However, a new study has even more dreaded news: UK universities stand to be the biggest losers financially if the UK decides to leave the EU.

A new survey by QS has found that one in five (20.6 percent) prospective international and EU students would be less interested in studying at UK universities if the UK left the EU. As a result, UK universities could lose out on £1 billion in potential first-year tuition fees if the latter materialises, said the study.

Based on a survey of 3,000 students, the study also found that over a third, or 36 percent of prospective international students, would be more interested in studying in the UK if they remained in the EU.  

Of prospective students who were more interested in studying at UK universities if the UK remained in the EU:

  • 44 percent said they thought it would make them more likely to get a job once they finished their studies
  • 43 percent of respondents cited financial viability as a reason for them being more interested in studying at a UK university if the UK remained in the EU
  • 40 percent of respondents said that the UK remaining in the EU would prove the country is still welcoming to international students

Paul Raybould, QS Director of B2B Marketing & Market Intelligence, said: “The UK’s higher education sector has a strong track record of delivering high-quality education to students from around the world, bringing significant benefits to the UK.

“Our research shows that irrespective of the Brexit outcome the UK Government must work with the sector to continue promoting the UK as a leading study destination for international and EU students. With the current Brexit uncertainty looking set to continue, any future proposals which help to make the UK a more attractive place to study should be more widely publicised,” he said.

Undoubtedly, these findings are a major cause for concern. If leaving the EU means UK universities are less attractive to international students, this not only harms universities but also the economy, also serving as a loss of international talent for the UK.

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