The Tuition Fee System Is Under Brexit Push!

The elimination of EU university subsidies after Brexit, UK-EU movement restrictions and the reduction of academic ties threaten the tuition fee system in the UK.

A 40% Drop in the Number of International Students in the UK

Nic Mitchell, who is a British-based freelance journalist and PR consultant running De la Cour Communications, reported a 40% drop in the number of UK undergraduate student enrolments  in 2022 from 2021. He blamed the decline on UK’s withdrawal from the EU rather than the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Mitchell also emphasises that the reason for this sharp decline is not the drop in Chinese international student enrolments, but pertains to students who came to the UK from EU countries.

Reduction of Foreign Students in the UK of EU Origin

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that 147,800 students enroled in UK universities in the 2019-2020 academic year, of which 141,870 were Chinese students. The 40% drop in international students in UK universities in January 2021 was due to a drop in applicants from EU countries, with the largest drop coming from Eastern European applicants. The number of international students

East-West Divide over International Students

Holly Smith, Senior International Officer at the University of Sussex, believes that the decline in European interest to study in the UK varies from university to university. However, the decline in the number of European students in the UK reflects the East-West divide as the number of students from Bulgaria has dropped by 70%, Romania by 66% and Lithuania by 65%. The decline is less severe in Western Europe, with Spanish students down by 27% and German students by 30%. Of course, the number of Irish students has not only not decreased, but it has increased by 26% since the UK offers special facilities for British-born residents of Ireland, including housing and tuition fees.

Rising Tuition Fees, New Crisis

According to Almut Caspary, higher education and science lead for the EU region at the British Council, polls show student interest in studying in the UK, but they are worried about the rising cost of studying outside the EU. The latest studies on Brexit in the UK for February 2021 indicate that people are twice as worried about their future employment and choosing the right place to study abroad as they are about Covid-19. In other words, the cost and quality of education is the most important concern for international students. The survey is in line with a previous British Council survey of 16- to 34-year-old students in the European Union (Spain, Germany, Poland, France and Greece) which showed that about 15% of undergraduate or graduate students want to enter the English language job market. Also, according to the survey, 4 out of 5 people considered it good to study in this country because of the community and the quality of UK universities.

International Students Flee Rise in Tuition Fees and Cost of Living in the UK

With the UK leaving the EU and cuts in government funding, UK universities and higher education institutions have increased tuition fees to cover their budget deficits. According to the results of a survey conducted by the National Student Survey (NSS), the level of satisfaction of British  students, which had been declining in previous years, has dropped even further this year. High university tuition fees and cost of living are among the factors for student dissatisfaction. In addition, these students believe that the educational facilities offered by universities are poor and inconsistent with the tuition fees they receive. Dissatisfaction is greater among students studying in London as spending, especially on housing, is higher in the capital than in other cities.

Rising Tuition Fees are Forcing Students to Drop Out

A study by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) also published a report stating that at least 1 in 20 home students have dropped out of school following an annual increase in tuition fees. A report by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) indicates that the increase in applications to universities in the UK is mostly for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where tuition is free or largely subsidised. But demand has fallen in the UK, where tuition fees reach 9000 pounds a year for some universities.

The Strategy of UK Universities to Attract Students

The best way to attract EU students to UK universities is to focus on the sisters, brothers and friends of those who have studied in the UK, because students are usually information-oriented and have little interest in emotional stories, unless they hear other student experiences directly from them.

The UK withdrawal from the EU and a lack of appropriate strategies to attract foreign students in the post-Brexit era have meant that  students are reluctant to study in this country and prefer leaving to staying. Unfortunately, Boris Johnson and his government have so far failed to provide a solution to bring foreign students back to the UK, and the number of students wishing to continue their studies in the UK is declining. Boris Johnson has shown that these issues do not matter to him. He prefers retaining power and continuing as prime minister to all other important issues.

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