The prospect of a ‘no-deal Brexit’, which would sharply hinder British science in its cooperation with the continent at large, is looming on the horizon. This coupled with rising tuition fees is driving British students away, and Berlin is all too happy to have them.
This is a troubling time for British universities. The prospect of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ threatens to severely damage research funding, and force UK scientists out of EU research projects, all while tuition fees creep slowly higher. When the government, however, starts taking an interest in the way that lecturers teach about the way Brexit is being implemented, as we have now witnessed with Chris Heaton-Harris’s letter to university staff, inquiring about ‘Brexit lecturers’, students would be forgiven for being concerned for the academic integrity of their institutions.
It’s really no wonder then that British students are looking elsewhere for their education. And where better than Germany? An integral member of the EU, which isn’t changing anytime soon, with free tuition and an international reputation. The British Council ranks Germany as third globally in international student mobility, beaten only by Hong Kong and the Netherlands, and first in terms of diploma recognition.
Anti-Brexit sentiment is highest among the 18-25s, and higher still among students. A combination of factors such as the possibility of dual-nationality for expats, and the general political climate at home makes moving abroad to remain in the EU an attractive prospect for some British students. Germany specifically, accepts dual nationality, but only with other member states.
Oxford PPE graduate, Gen Hall decided to take advantage of this possibility while he still could, and applied for German citizenship after the Brexit vote. He now lives in Berlin, learning German at the GLS language school. For him, the effects of the UK’s imminent break with the EU are very real and tangible. He fears that a reduction in student mobility will severely damage the state of higher education in the UK. “Most of my friends at uni are either European, or somehow linked to Europe,” he said “I can see in 3 years, those people not going to Oxbridge, but to the United States instead”.
WITHOUT THESE PEOPLE, YOU LOSE A CHANNEL OF KNOWLEDGE.
This fear may be well placed, as a mixture of Brexit and the UK government’s stance on immigration will almost certainly cost British students their access to Erasmus+. The EU mobility programme, which sent over 15,000 Brits abroad for studies and traineeships in 2013/14, sends hundreds of thousands of European students abroad to study every year. There may, of course, be a replacement programme, to allow these practices to continue as is done in Switzerland, but that remains to be seen.
Ewan Consterdine : European Higher Education News :