A Brexit no-deal scenario could deal a catastrophic blow to the UK higher education sector and trigger the financial collapse of those institutions reliant on income generated from the 120,000 EU students currently studying in the UK. That’s according to Dr Nicos Nicolaou, CEO of Unicaf, the online learning platform dedicated to providing HE to underserved markets. His statement is backed up by the HE think tank HEPI which reported that new restrictions on the free flow of international students could cost the UK economy £2bn a year, made up of:
• £463 million a year less in tuition fees for higher education institutions
• £604 million a year less in non-tuition fee expenditure and
• £928 million a year less from the detrimental impact on universities’ supply chains (known as the indirect and induced effects)
The majority of young professionals simply cannot afford to move to another country to study – universities must harness today’s technological advances to deliver degrees via flexible delivery models
According to Universities UK, the government has confirmed that the EU Settlement Scheme will not apply to individuals arriving after the UK leaves the EU in a no-deal scenario. Instead, EU and EEA individuals (including students) will be able to stay in the UK for up to three months, after which they will need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain. This will enable them to work, study and live in the UK for up to three years. Once their Leave to Remain expires, they will have to apply under the future immigration system (operational from 2021) for the relevant visa. The government’s white paper on immigration, which sets out the general direction of the post-2021 immigration system, may be found here.
The European Temporary Leave to Remain system may be problematic for EU students wishing to undertake a course of more than three years in length (such as students intending to study towards an undergraduate degree in Scotland or many PhD students), as they would have to commit to their course of study without the guarantee that they will be granted a visa, or without knowing the conditions of that visa under the future immigration system.
So what can UK universities do to support their financial stability?
Dr Nicolaou believes that UK universities must set their sights further afield and commence marketing with vigour to buoyant developing economies such as the African continent, where global multinationals are struggling to recruit qualified professionals due to a chronic lack of graduates with qualifications they recognise.
According to World Education News and Reviews, Nigeria, one of Africa’s most rapidly expanding economies, is a case in point. Every year, 1.7 million students in Nigeria compete for only half a million places; potentially leaving over a million qualified college-age Nigerians without a post-secondary place.
But marketing alone will not cut it says Dr Nicolaou. The majority of young professionals simply cannot afford to move to another country to study – universities must harness today’s technological advances to deliver degrees via flexible delivery models.
Dr Nicos Nicolaou is CEO of Unicaf, an online learning platform in sub-Saharan Africa. For further info, visit unicaf.org