“This is not an end but a beginning,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared as the United Kingdom officially left the European Union at 6pm on Friday, January 31st. He hailed Brexit as the dawn of a new day and the opening scene of the next act in British history. Four years after the close British vote of whether to leave the EU and the controversial debates that followed, it is finally happening. The New York Times reported, “The departure marks the start of a transition period in which London and Brussels will hash out the terms of their future ties.” Despite the contention, Brexit will move forward, even if the UK doesn’t quite have all of the details worked out.
Many concerns going forward after Brexit are the negotiations over Britain’s new trade relationship with the European Union. Almost half of the nation was against Brexit, wanting instead to remain with the European Union as they had been since the union’s birth in 1992 under the Maastricht Treaty. Much of the “new beginning” boasted by PM Johnson is rooted in the idea that Brexit will create new opportunities for individual and family growth. The Prime Minister explained to the people that their prospects will, supposedly, no longer depend on which part of the country in which they grew up, saying, “This is the moment when we begin to unite and level up.” There is celebration and mourning alike among the citizens of the United Kingdom. As Britain removed the European Union flag from its embassy in Brussels, Britain’s own Union Jack came down at the European Council and Parliament buildings on the last night of January. Where there is fear, there are also people hoping for a new day.
It is anticipated that Brexit will have no direct effect on international students who study in the UK. The single supposed effect on students would be that European students continue to pay only the lower tuition fees to match the British students. The British government agreed that European students studying in England will be treated as if they were at “home.” Brexit shows no indication that it will change tuition fees or funding options. In the worst-case scenario, European students might be treated like non-European international students with higher tuition fees. This would also result in many more difficulties for British students wishing to study in Europe. But as far as U.S. students are concerned, there is currently no known result of Brexit in which their off-campus studies might be hindered.
International students, however, may struggle. Visa and tuition arrangements for those classified as “international students” will remain the same for now. This may not last forever. According to Study.EU, there are estimations of a future tightening on immigration in the UK. “Universities and educators have been very clear about this: international students are welcome in the UK. However, laws and visa policies are handled by the government; and the current administration has also publicly considered plans to limit immigration, including student immigration. There may be future policies making it harder for foreigners to study in the United Kingdom.”
If you are dreaming of studying in the UK, it sounds like this year is a window to do so before things have the potential to get a bit more difficult. Brexit makes this an exciting time in the country’s history with plenty of dreams and hopes for a better future as well as concerns about the outcome of the change. Why not go see the UK for yourself?