How Brexit would hurt British education


Now that the British have voted to leave the European Union, the fallout on all parts of British society — not to mention the world economy — are starting to be evaluated. Business, finance, jobs, travel, health, housing, transportation — everything is open for change, including British schools, both primary and secondary as well as higher education.

Britain gets some money for education from the European Union, but there isn’t a consensus in Britain about whether that amount can easily be made up. In a recent debate on Sputnik International News, David Lindsay, a writer and editor of the influential Lanchester Review blog, said that it could, while Simon Mabon, a lecturer in international relations at Lancaster University, argued that it could not because the E.U provides too much of the education funding used to maintain the system.

There is also no agreement on how foreign students as well as teachers and professors will react. While nobody knows for sure what will happen, there are many fears that it won’t be positive. Here are some early thoughts about how education could change in Britain:


Myth: Uncontrolled migration is putting unsustainable pressure on school places.

InFact: The shortage of school places has been caused by government errors and recent policies making it harder for local authorities to create new places. EU migrants contribute to the public finances. This wealth could be invested in schools. Brexit, by contrast, would cause a hole in the budget meaning there would be less money to spend on schools, not more.

The shortage of primary school places is yet another example of how uncontrolled migration is putting unsustainable pressures on our public services,” claimed government minister Priti Patel on April 18, the day parents learned whether their children had got into their first choice of primary school.

In fact, successive governments are to blame for the lack of school places. The Labour government reacted slowly to the birthrate boom of the 2000s. And the subsequent coalition and Conservative governments have put further barriers in the way of local authorities expanding and building schools in response to the need for more classrooms….

Leaving the EU will create significant challenges for universities. Although this is not an outcome that we wished or campaigned for, we respect the decision of the UK electorate. We should remember that leaving the EU will not happen overnight — there will be a gradual exit process with significant opportunities to seek assurances and influence future policy.

Throughout the transition period our focus will be on securing support that allows our universities to continue to be global in their outlook, internationally networked and an attractive destination for talented people from across Europe. These features are central to ensuring that British universities continue to be the best in the world.

Our first priority will be to convince the UK Government to take steps to ensure that staff and students from EU countries can continue to work and study at British universities in the long term, and to promote the UK as a welcoming destination for the brightest and best minds. They make a powerful contribution to university research and teaching and have a positive impact on the British economy and society. We will also prioritize securing opportunities for our researchers and students to access vital pan-European programs and build new global networks.

Many schools employ foreigners and around 14% of university staff are from Europe. No one knows what Brexit would mean but it can offer no guarantee of immigration status. If EU nationals working in Britain lose certain rights, such as free NHS care, will they up sticks and go home? Schools claim they will lose 400,000 teachers if the Brexiteers win. We already have a shortage of quality teachers — this would only exacerbate the problem. If the quality of teaching dips, parents who pay for education will start to look elsewhere.

And what of the pupils? Some 5,000 children from EU countries are currently at British boarding schools. Brexit would add bureaucracy and complexity to their travel arrangements and make parents reconsider. Around 5.5% of higher education students are from EU countries. An exodus of international students would mean a vast net outflow of money from the UK from associated industries: student accommodation, cultural tourist events to name but a few.

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