Brexit hits UK universities as EU students look elsewhere


British universities are reaping an inverted “Brexit dividend” with a sharp drop in the number of applications from European students.

The news leaves higher education in the UK bracing for a financial blow from the loss of international students, on top of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Applications for EU students to enroll in the most selective universities and the most selective courses in 2022 have fallen by 16%, according to figures released today by the university admissions body UCAS.

This compares to a less than 1% drop in applications from the rest of the world, and follows an almost 20% drop in applications from the EU last year, the first round of applications after leaving the Kingdom. – United from the block.

The numbers, covering applications to Oxford and Cambridge universities and to study medicine, dentistry and veterinary sciences, will be closely watched by other universities, which have later application deadlines for the vast majority of their courses.

Today’s figures represent around one in 10 applicants to study in the UK during the 2022 cycle.

The 20% drop in applicants for universities and the most selective courses last year was accompanied by an almost 40% drop in EU applicants to UK higher education institutions in the together.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged the UK will experience a ‘Brexit dividend’, the impact on higher education so far appears anything but beneficial.

Besides the loss of European students, the UK is also excluded by no longer being part of the Erasmus student exchange program, while UK scientists can be excluded from EU research programs.

International students represent a valuable source of income for universities, which have already been hit hard by the pandemic.

In addition to tuition fees, universities have also lost income from accommodation, conferences and events, with an estimated loss of £ 11 billion ($ 15 billion) in the long run, according to one estimate.

Universities hope that an increase in the number of international students outside the EU will compensate for the loss of income of EU students.

Overall, applications from international students declined slightly, although applications from China – which accounts for almost one in three non-European applications to study in the UK – increased by 5%.

Drop in EU applications follows a sharp rise in the level of fees they can expect to pay to study in the UK

After Brexit, EU students no longer enjoy tuition fee status, which limits tuition fees to £ 9,250 per year ($ 12,700). Instead, they face international student fees, which at more selective universities can range from £ 22,000 ($ 30,000) for an arts degree to £ 58,000 ($ 80,000). ) to study medicine.

Irish students, however, will continue to benefit from hospitality expense status under the Common Travel Zone (CTA) arrangements. Irish student applications for the most selective universities and courses have increased by 15% this year.

Today’s figures also revealed that the number of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds applying to the most selective universities and courses increased by 8% compared to last year, compared to an increase of 1%. among the least disadvantaged students.

However, the less disadvantaged are still more than five times more likely to apply to Oxford and Cambridge or study medicine, dentistry and veterinary science than the most disadvantaged students.