Brexit need not lead to a catastrophic decline in UK higher education institutions’ recruitment of students from the European Union, a former universities minister has said.

As negotiations on the two parties’ future relationship reach a fraught conclusion, Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, has indicated that a “no deal” Brexit is increasingly likely, leaving universities facing a host of uncertainties.

However, former universities minister Jo Johnson – the prime minister’s brother – has given a comparatively upbeat assessment of the UK’s ability to continue to attract students from the EU, despite the end of access to UK student loans, and the benefit they have enjoyed in paying domestic rather than international tuition fees.

Speaking to Education Investor Global, Mr Johnson cited a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute which warned that EU student numbers could fall by 50 per cent post-Brexit, but he said that while this was possible, “I am optimistic, not pessimistic, about UK institutions’ ability to compete on a level playing field with the EU, without the benefit of the loan book to support them”.

Read more : Times Higher Education : 21 October 2020