Brexit and COVID – Impact on UK’s Higher Education
While the year 2020 is winding up, the world is waiting for a new life, free of COVID-19.
However, the UK is not only trying to overcome COVID, but also it starts its new chapter in 2021 by leaving the European Union. Thus, the country’s education system is under a great pressure to face the two challenges – COVID & BREXIT.
As the return of post study work visa has got the attention of all the international students, there may be an impact for European students due to Brexit.
In this blog, lets discuss the pros and cons caused by COVID and Brexit, that will impact the students who choose UK for their study destination.
COVID 19 – CHANGES MADE IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM:
The COVID has started its second wave in the UK, in the UK, causing a ban in aviation from other countries to the UK till December 31st. It has undoubtedly brought a huge blow to the higher education sector in the UK.
It has made the UK universities to think of long-term plans for both the safety and academics of its students.
University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) has put in many changes regarding the admission and teaching process to impress international students. Also, it is very important to check with your university regarding the teaching and the safety measures taken.
- Most of the universities were forced to move for online-only teaching during the pandemic. With the restrictions being relaxed, the universities are currently following a blended teaching which will be continued for the September 2021 intake as well.
- Even though the university campuses remain open, all the lectures will be delivered online. To involve students in face-to-face activities, they will also follow small group teaching, tutorials and seminars whenever needed.
- For the practical subjects like fine arts, photography and designing, the universities have announced to follow a mix of online lectures and seminars with access to the studios and labs for a small group of people.
- Along with all the above measures, universities are encouraging students for one-to-one contact with the staffs.
- Most of the universities have moved their Career Fairs and Open day events online. Students can still access Virtual open Days in the website of most of the UK universities.
- This helps the international students in deciding what to choose for their future.
- Due to the uncertainty prevailed during 2020, the UK government has announced flexible visa regulations for the international students who were already in the UK and to those who were planning to arrive for Sep 2020 intake.
- Many countries had travel restrictions throughout 2020. UK universities were flexible enough to defer the offer letter of their students to January 2021 intake.
- Some universities like De Montfort have provided a time extension for its September 2020 students to join the course till January 2021. Until that the students were required to attend online classes while in their home country.
- Universities made sure that attending online classes have no impact on the student’s contact hours and attendance. Also, the visa status of the students was updated if they were unable to travel / join for the applied intake.
- The UK has become the first country to approve COVID vaccine which will roll out from December 2020. International students will also have access to the vaccine which means they will receive the vaccine quicker in the UK than in their home country.
- Hence, the September 2021 intake will take place as scheduled in a safe manner. UK universities have already started to process the application as normal.
Student Safety in campus:
- To reduce the risk of corona virus, many universities have implemented new rules for its students in both halls as well as on campus.
- It encourages students to follow “social bubble” concept in which students are allowed to stay with their course mates, those in the same year group and those with whom they share their flats.
This limits the interaction of students with other people inside the university campus. Some of the other safety measures followed by the UK universities are:
- Free Masks / face coverings
- Sanitizing stations
- Reducing the working time of facilities like Library, Labs, etc.
- One-way entry / exit points to get around the campus
- Free accommodation to international students
- Floor Markings
- Other Social distancing measures
BREXIT – IMPACT ON INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS:
The United Kingdom had been a member of the European Union from 1973. However, it came to an end in 2017 when the British Government initiated the leaving proceedings popularly called Britain Exiting – BREXIT
The transition phase of Brexit ends on 31st December. Even though Brexit does not have an impact on the international / Non-European students, the future regulations for international students are not clearly stated yet.
We can say that students from Asia, Africa and other non-European countries will have the same visa policies and tuition fee that are followed currently. Let's see about this in detail:
New Visa Policies:
- Brexit aims to limit and control the free movement of European nationals in the UK. This may lead to EU nationals lose their advantage of seeking job or study in the UK without visa.
- Currently they enjoy home student status. However, new rules may want the EU nationals to apply for Student visa to enroll at the UK universities. Similarly, EU nationals doesn't need a visa to seek for a job in the UK. This could also be changed due to Brexit.
Tuition Fee Changes:
- As the EU students will be treated as international students, they may have to pay higher course fee than now which will be similar to non-EU students.
EU Employees in the UK:
- Accepting both skilled and unskilled workers from the European nations are likely to be stopped after Brexit. All the international people will be subjected to skill-based immigration system.
- The new immigration policies enforced after Brexit may be harder for the EU people who are working as professors, teachers, researchers, etc. This may force the EU academics either to move out of the UK or simply decide not to move to the UK.
ADVANTAGES FOR INDIAN STUDENTS IN THE CURRENT SITUATION:
Even though COVID and BREXIT have a major impact on the UK economy, the country is pushing its International Education System very hard, which is one of the ways to boost its economy.
UK aims to raise the number of international students to 30% in the next ten years. This gives us a new hope to choose the Great Britain for higher studies.
A Fair play for all Students:
- Total EU student population in the UK is more than 1,30,000. This means that EU students were getting priority in university admissions over non-EU students.
- As there is already a decline in student enrolments from European nations, the leading UK universities are increasing their recruitment of non-EU students.
Indian Student Admissions:
- India stands in the second place in sending students to the UK. Hence it is obvious that the income gap created by the decline of EU students will make the UK universities to recruit more students from here.
- Brexit will also have an impact on the British Economy and its currency. A year after Brexit vote, British Pound Sterling GBP has lost 15% of its value against the Euro (EUR).
- Once Brexit comes into full effect, the economic turmoil may cause decline in GBP value which will be an advantage to the international students in terms of accommodation and tuition fee.
Post Study Work Visa:
- The two-year buffer time provided after graduation helps the students to seek job and get work permit. Students can go for temporary jobs during this period which makes Brexit a boon to international students.
- Brexit has made not only the university admissions easier but also it opens doors for endless job opportunities. Admitting only skilled workers have put an end to the EU workers being provided employment opportunity over a non-EU worker.
- Also, as the EU students does not require a sponsor for work permits, they were the most preferred than the non-EU graduates. Brexit has ended this freedom of movement which means both EU and non-EU graduates will need Tier-2 work visa.
Work Visa for Indian Students:
- There was a limit in the number of work visas being issued for the skilled immigrants. The new visa policies due to Brexit has removed the limit. Hence there will be no shortage of work visas for Indian students.
- This has already started reflecting, where more than 55,000 Indians were provided Tier-2 skilled worker visa in the year 2018. It comprises of 55% of the total Tier-2 visas issues that year.
The year 2021 will be a better year to apply for higher studies in the UK from financial point of view. The new visa policies give the final push to the students who decided to postpone their studies till 2021 / 2022 due to COVID and Brexit.
The UK government and the universities are well handling the COVID-19 challenges and has taken necessary steps to support the international students who are already in the UK and those who are planning to come to the UK.
Brexit makes the competition between the students to be based on merit and not nationality. It will provide all the students an equal opportunity to get admission in the UK universities.UK higher education sector is strongly determined to maintain equal level of opportunities for all the students and faculty members.
Moreover, the strong international reputation and facilities provided by the UK universities will not be compromised at any cost. Considering all these situations, we can strongly suggest that this is the right time for the students to choose the UK for their higher education.
Hope you will now have a clarity on the current situation prevailing in the UK.
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