The referendum decision that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union will prompt questions about the potential implications for your education institutions. Higher education providers will be concerned about funding and free movement of staff and students. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, in 2014/5 around 8% of students engaged in full-time higher education in the UK were from European Union countries (other than the UK) and around 3% of students in part-time higher education. We estimate that around 2.5%, or £838m, of all higher education in the UK is funded through the course fees of EU students.

Statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency report that £836m of higher education funding comes from EU sources, equalling around 2.5% of total higher education funding. This means that at least 5% of higher education funding in the UK is directly contributed by the rest of the EU. An open letter from Vice-Chancellors estimated that students from the EU generate £3.7bn annually for the UK economy.
Outside of financial considerations, academics and workers from the rest of the EU play a vital part of the higher education workforce in the UK, with somewhere between 15-17% of all academic staff coming from the rest of the EU. More startlingly, 39.5% of new academic posts creating in the 10 years between 2004/05-2014/15 were created by non-UK EU academics. There are, of course, non-quantifiable factors to consider, such as collaboration between UK and EU universities, free movement of people allowing researchers easier travel, and the long term economic and social benefits afforded from attracting talent students from across the EU.

As the terms of the ‘deal’ negotiated with the EU become clear, these factors will be affected to a greater or lesser extent. If the funding shortfall is not met by the government, it is possible we may see universities being allowed to further raise tuition fees. This would be in keeping with the recent white paper ‘Higher Education: success as a knowledge economy’, where the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills propose allowing high performing higher education providers to raise fees above the £9000 cap in line with inflation.

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Mary Groom

Partner and Head of Education

+44(0)20 7551 7760

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Posted on 01/07/2016 in Brexit Briefcase

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