Global disconnection: Brexit’s toll on international student

The Brexit in 2020 has had a big impact on students that want to go abroad. These consequences are still going on to this day, in this article we are unveiling the struggle for equal rights and economic feasibility for study abroad stundents in 2024.

Brexit consequences on students
Brexit consequences on international students (GoOverseas, 2020)
Sam Timmerman Sam Timmerman
Meike Barkema Meike Barkema

On September 7th, 2016, the UK announced their exit from the EU (European Union), the Brexit. A lot has changed, for everybody, but one group in particular has a lot to do with the consequences: students going to study abroad.

“I hereby give notice that I have certified the following: the total number of ballot papers counted was 33,577,342. The total number of votes cast in favor of remain was 16,141,241. The total number of votes cast in favor of leave was 17,410,742. This means that the UK has voted to leave the European Union.” The exact words of Jenny Watson, former chairperson of the United Kingdom Electoral Commission.

From the 31st of January 2020, citizens of the United Kingdom have experienced an enormous change. Traveling and visiting relatives suddenly became a lot harder and studying abroad way more work than it should be.

Old vs young

Two opinions that were opposed during Brexit were old and young. Whereas the majority of older people wanted the United Kingdom to break away from Europe, three-quarters of younger students wanted them to remain part of the EU. This means they can no longer easily travel and work across Europe and this takes away part of their freedom (NOS, 2024).

Right now the question remains: was this a good choice? Statista reads that the gap between the wrong choice and the right choice is growing increasingly apart. More than 50% of the people believe it was a wrong choice. But the younger generation was against Brexit from the first moment. In the media it is therefore often about young and old against each other. But what is the reason for this difference of opinion?

The ages and their opinion on Brexit

Political scientists have shown that the younger generation has a weaker attachment to their political parties, religions and social class than their (grand)parents had. The interest has shifted to more modern politics, such as the media and the EU. Next to this fact, there is a big difference in the education system now. The younger generation knows more about issues relating to quality of life and freedom than the previous generation. Things like climate change, poverty and human rights take the lead and the EU is playing a leading role. And, finally, the younger generation no longer has a strong feeling of embrace towards traditional conceptions of national identity and wants to explore outside of their countries.

The once boundless horizons have now given way to a reality where venturing beyond borders demands significantly more time, resources, and adherence to regulations.

Before and after Brexit

One of the biggest highlights of being a student is the opportunity to go international and broaden your mind, knowledge and further choices. To outline a scenario of the difference between wanting a study abroad from before and now, the biggest points are listed below. From no more Erasmus funding to more recruitment and documents from the EU. We sat down with an international student to talk about her experience during the proces of getting out of England.

Brexit has had a significant impact on UK students, limiting their exposure to foreign languages and constraining their global perspectives. Due to the high costs involved, only a small fraction of students can afford to study abroad, exacerbating inequalities in access to educational opportunities. Regardless of their backgrounds, all students should have equal access to such opportunities.

Furthermore, former European partners have scaled back funding and cooperation with the UK, further reducing opportunities for exchange and collaboration. In addition to the loss of opportunities, the bureaucratic hurdles such as visa requirements add to the financial burden and mental stress for students aspiring to study abroad.

Overall, Brexit has not only diminished the educational experiences available to UK students but has also added complexity and challenges to the pursuit of international study opportunities. The information about Brexit is constantly changing. To try and help with all the confusion, the government has made an overview of the impact Brexit had in every country in the EU.

Governmental help

Despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the UK government remains committed to supporting students pursuing educational opportunities abroad. One of the primary concerns for students planning to study abroad post-Brexit has been financial assistance. In 2021, the UK government launched the Turing Scheme, a global program to work and study abroad. It offers funding for international study opportunities, aiming to promote global mobility and cultural exchange. The scheme covers a wide range of expenses, including tuition fees, travel costs, and living expenses, making studying abroad a viable option for UK students.

Another struggle students experience is getting a visa. The introduction of the Student Route visa simplifies the visa application process for international students, including those from the UK. This dedicated visa route should ensure students that they can focus on their academic endeavors without being overwhelmed by bureaucratic hurdles. Students say they still have difficulty arranging a visa even with these arrangements. Especially if it is for longer than 6 months. In terms of guidance while applying to study abroad, the government leaves it to universities to help their students.

In the future, we aspire for students to receive increased support and funding for studying abroad. Unsure of where to begin? Explore these 10 tips for selecting your ideal destination!

Sam Timmerman

An international Communications student from the Netherlands. I love writing about lifestyle, health and my experiences abroad :)

Meike Barkema

I am a junior communications professional from the Netherlands, currently pursuing my studies abroad at Abat Oliba CEU. I love to learn more about different cultures, and I mainly write about my travels and experiences as an international student.