The House of Commons Education Committee of the UK has released its report on the impact of Brexit on higher education on Tuesday. In the report, the committee has mentioned that the country will witness brain drain due to Brexit along with the slow down of funds from the EU for British universities.
Among the students enrolled at the universities in 2015-16, the report found that 5.6 per cent were from the European Union and 13.6 per cent were from non European countries.
“It is difficult to argue against retaining the attractiveness of the UK higher education sector for EU students, though, as in 2011/12 they generated an estimated £ 3.7 billion for the UK economy and 34,000 jobs,” the report said. It added that in 2014–15, international students contributed £ 25.8 billion in gross output through spending, and supported 206,600 jobs.
Additionally, it noted that 16 per cent of the total workforce in UK’s higher education system are from European Union countries and recognised the need to guarantee their rights to work as soon as possible.
Keeping these points in mind, the UK Education Committee has asked its government to give priority to the following:
1. Solve EU student/staff uncertainty
The report stressed the need to reduce the uncertainty surrounding EU staff and students and to guarantee that they will still receive the same fees and tuition loan as before. It even pointed out that there needs to be a quick solution on EU staff residency rights.
2. Immigration should not obstruct but facilitate movement
According to the report, there should be an easier route for academics from across the globe to gain access to British universities. It said that the movement of people to and from universities should not be obstructed.
3. Net migration target
“The best model for all international students, including from the EU, is an open approach with few barriers,” the report said adding that this will make sure that higher education can benefit from international students. For this purpose and to prevent any hindrance to the flow of talent, the government should remove international students from the numbers while calculating and limiting net migration, it said.
4. Collaborate for research and future
The UK education committee encouraged the alliance with the EU for research and higher education.
“The Government should commit to Horizon 2020 and future research frameworks to ensure ongoing research collaboration with the EU,” the committee said, adding that a plan should be developed so that the EU funding that would be lost through Brexit can be substituted domestically.
This programme is a part of the European Union which supports education, training, youth and sport across Europe and will be lost through Brexit. The UK Education Committee recommended that a “home-grown replacement” should be developed that would include mobility beyond Europe.
6. Regional funds
The report said that the UK government should support the education sector and balance the economy by growing regional funds. These should essentially exceed the funds from EU and importance should be place on the “place” so as to benefit all regions, it said.
7. Cross-government strategy
The best way to handle Brexit for the education sector is to let higher education play a role in global trade deals and to let it have a global reach.
“A bold cross-Government strategy is needed,” the education committee noted. It said that there should be collaborations with major research nations and that more funding should be brought to existing collaborations.