If you’re baffled by the figures showing the number of students in favour of Remain, don’t be. It’s actually perfectly rational
The EU has a large impact on the lives of students in Britain, from entrance to university to life after graduation. As a result, the impact of Brexit on students should be considered in detail. The developing pattern shown in polls, of old people voting for Brexit, while young people vote to stay in the EU, could perhaps be explained, at least in part, by the links between students and the EU.
One of the biggest concerns related to Brexit is the financial impact that it could have. Economists, as well as economic organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, have warned that Brexit would cause a recession, not only in Britain but around the world. Therefore, Brexit could lead to a reduction in employment rates. For those who are attempting to make their way in the world of work, such as recent graduates, this will be a huge concern.
Another key concern for students is the way that travel will be affected. Many British students take a year or a semester abroad as part of their degree. If Britain leaves the EU, this may be more difficult as the current rights of British citizens to live and work in the EU make the process of studying abroad much easier. Therefore, if these rights are revoked as a result of Britain leaving, students may be discouraged from travelling abroad as part of their degree — something that may prevent them from having a beneficial life experience.
Moreover, it is not just the living and working rights of those in the EU that make it easier for British students to study, there are also financial concerns to be considered. It has been stated by the Association of British Travel Agents that the cost of flights after Brexit may rise. This could mean that students on a lower income will no longer have the opportunity to study abroad.
This difficulty in travelling abroad not only impacts the students’ university experience, but life after university. If we leave the EU, it will be more difficult for graduates to work abroad after university. This could further lower the job prospects of graduates as more will be forced to search for jobs at home.
A less serious concern, but one still worth considering for many students, is the cost of travelling abroad, not only for work but for leisure. Travelling abroad during university holidays is a popular pastime among students. However, it is likely that this would become more expensive and, as a result, may no longer be feasible for those on a lower income.
However, changes to travel will have a larger impact on non-British students who are considering studying in Britain. It is possible that students who come from other countries in the EU will be discouraged if Britain becomes harder to access and our economy falls into recession. This will be detrimental to the diverse student population that we currently enjoy and the range of innovative ideas that are available as a result.
Moreover, it is well known that university research is often funded by the EU. Without this support, British universities may no longer be capable of such high quality research. The reputation of the British education system and high university rankings of which we are so proud could therefore be at stake, if we leave the EU. It is unlikely that it would be feasible for the British government to fund expensive projects. Without the money to provide the expensive technology needed for research, Britain may lose its reputation for a high standard of education, and this could even impact research around the world.
It seems that Brexit would be detrimental to the needs of British students as well as students from the EU who would like to study in Britain. It could lead to a less diversified student population, less opportunities for British students to travel abroad (particularly for those on lower income), a reduced quality of academic research and a more difficult job market — possibly leading to higher graduate unemployment. Although for other sectors of society leaving the EU may be beneficial, it seems that it benefits students and, for them, a Brexit could be disastrous.