The story so far: In a referendum held in June 2016, a majority of British citizens voted that the UK should leave the European Union (EU). On March 29th 2017, British premier Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which contains the rules for any member state leaving the EU. The whole exit process is predicted to take around 2 years.
Since the so-called Brexit affects several policies regarding international recruitment of students and graduates to and from the UK, we thought we’d set up a small info hub, to keep you up to speed. Many things are still unclear and evolving over time, so we aim to update this article whenever we learn something new.
So, what information do you need?
Sidenote: Of course, we want to encourage you to keep calm and carry on travelling the world whenever you get the chance, be it education, work or pure leisure. After all...
1. Studying in the UK as EU/EEA student
The British elite universities, first and foremost Oxford and Cambridge (‘Oxbridge’) are still among the most reputable ones in the world - and so far it doesn’t look like these rankings will be overturned anytime soon. At many of the top British universities, more than 35% of the student population is international - even though they have reportedly experienced a drop in applications from EU students following the 2016 referendum. As a consequence, several universities and student organisations are now part of the #weareinternational campaign to support international students in the UK.
The main areas of interest with regards to the Brexit are:
- The potential change in visa regulations regarding EU students in the UK: The requirements may then match the ones that are now in place for students coming from outside the EU.
- A potential rise in tuition fees and change in student loan regulation: For the academic year of 2017/2018 EU students will still be eligible for the same loans and grants. In the long run, EU students may have to pay higher tuition fees in the UK though, if they are considered equal to all other foreign students.
- It’s still unclear if UK universities will remain as part of the Erasmus exchange programme as it’s an EU-funded scheme.
2. Doing an internship in the UK as a EU student/graduate
As there is no EU-wide regulation for internships in place, there is no direct effect on your plans to do an internship in the UK. Especially London remains a popular place for internships for the time being. There is nothing keeping you from adjusting your CV to the UK standards and applying.
Still, in the long-run, the British exit from the Union will probably impact the free mobility of EU citizens to the UK. You might have to jump through more bureaucratic hoops in order to obtain a visa for your internship in the United Kingdom.
3. Finding a graduate job in the UK as a EU citizen
Similar to internships, your ability to apply for graduate jobs in the UK are not directly affected by a Brexit (once again, just make sure your CV fits the UK standards). However, are almost certainly going to be changes made to the law of free mobility regarding the UK. So at some point might be asked to apply for a visa that comes with restrictions, such as surcharges on health care or sponsorship through companies.
Also, depending on how the exit negotiations go, some UK based companies might decide to move more jobs to cities within the EU such as Dublin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Brussels. So far, however, graduate recruitment has not seen a major dive as most UK companies are still waiting for concrete negotiation results and policy decisions regarding the Brexit.
1. Studying in the European Union as a UK student
With British tuition fees among the highest in Europe, studying in another EU country has long been an option for UK students to save on expenses while studying. Under EU regulation all students coming from within the union only pay the local fees in each member state. If that agreement ceases to exist, it could mean that UK students studying in the EU may be charged the tuition fees that other overseas students are paying - and the difference in sums can be quite substantial.
Furthermore, it might mean UK students may in the future look into student visa regulations for each individual European in each country - but once again that will depend on the exit negotiations. A big unanswered question is if UK universities will still be able to participate in the exchange programmes such as Erasmus as these are based on EU funds and the free movement across countries. Case in point - Switzerland 3 years ago: when the country did not want to accept the EU free movement act, Swiss students almost lost their Erasmus privileges - Switzerland ended up paying other European universities individually to take in students.
2. Doing an internship in the EU as a UK student/graduate
As there is no EU-wide regulation for internships in place, there is no direct effect on your plans to do an internship anywhere in Europe. Just bear in mind that the standards for what a job application has to look vary from country to country.
In the long-run, the British exit from the Union will probably impact the free mobility of UK citizens to the EU, though the UK might strike some bilateral agreements with certain countries. You might have to jump through more bureaucratic hoops in order to obtain a visa for your internship in a EU country.
3. Finding a graduate job in the EU as a UK citizen
Essentially the same as with internships (read above). In the short term, there will most likely be no consequences - in the long run, a lot depends on the adaptation of the free movement rule the EU has in place at the moment.
Some UK companies might increase their staff in offices within the EU to stay closer to the common market, opening new opportunities job opportunities abroad.
Summing up to the best of our abilities: The Brexit doesn’t necessarily mean an end to your international job search for UK in- and outbounds. However, principles such as free movement and equal treatment of EU students are up for debate now and will have to be renegotiated, affecting the ease of studying and seeking jobs internationally.