CGHE Webinar 332

Brexit and UK higher education after five years: You know the answer, don’t you?

Date: Thursday, 2 February 2023 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Zoom webinar, registration required
Speaker(s):

Event Materials

This event is now archived and we are pleased to provide the following event media and assets, along with the original event overview.

The research team that investigated the effects of Brexit in higher education for the ESRC in 2017-2018 returns to the topic five years after the 2016 referendum. It is now crystal clear that Brexit has weakened the close collaborative links between UK higher education institutions and their EU counterparts, with negative implications for UK resources and capacity, without leading to new global strategies and opportunities.

The most obvious effect is the sharp decline in the number of European students in UK higher education. In 2020 the UK government withdrew from the Erasmus student mobility scheme and introduced its own Turing scheme. While Erasmus had supported both the outward mobility of UK students and the inward movement of European students, Turing supports only outward mobility. In 2021-22 the cessation of UK tuition fee arrangements for EU citizens entering UK degree programmes led to a sharp drop in numbers in that category also.

The damage to research might be even more serious. Collaborative European research programmes have been crucial in building the infrastructure and network centrality of UK science and in attracting EU citizen researchers, but at the time of writing the UK’s future participation as a non-member country in Horizon Europe was unresolved. The long uncertainty about this, coupled with the cessation of free people movement after Brexit, have led to the exit of some UK-based researchers, a decline in UK researchers’ competitiveness in European grants, a fall in the number of EU doctoral students and established researchers entering the UK, and a decline in EU country citizens as a proportion of UK academic staff.

As much as all would like to find a silver lining, the fact must be faced squarely: the impact of Brexit in higher education and research has been major and totally negative. The question is what to do in future.

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