After years of tough negotiations with delays and uncertainties, Brexit is finally realized, with Britain officially exiting the European Union starting from Friday, 31 January 2020 at 11.00 p.m. local time.
In the transition period, the UK is no longer part of the EU's political consortium which eliminates British MEPs in the European parliament. However, the UK still abides by the customs union and single market under EU's regulations. Other arrangements will still remain up to 31st of December 2020, where all negotiations between both parties must be finalized by then.
With the ‘divorce’ between the UK and the EU is official, this will have an impact on the UK's higher education regulations, especially for international students who wish or are currently studying in Britain.
The United Kingdom has been the world's leading study destination, second only to the United States of America. In 2017-2018, more than 450,000 international students from the EU and non-EU are accounted for in the UK. This makes up 19.6% of the population in the UK, with 14% & 35.8% of them are undergraduates and postgraduates.
The high influx of international students is reasoned with the presence of three of the best universities in the world to be located in the UK, such as the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and Imperial College London. They also have a reputation for world-class research programs that are highly recognized by the world along with courses that are designed to enhance student’s critical thinking and skills for their chosen careers.
So, will there be changes in the admission process for international students? It is still to be determined. Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, indicated that there are currently no clear answers on the education sector after Brexit. There is not enough evidence to predict the current student fees, study abroad program or even the Erasmus program, although assumptions are made that there is a hint of higher complexity that targets students with EU passport. With the regulations surrounding academic study is still unclear, it is hard to predict the toll on the formal higher education.
However, on the same day of the Brexit finalization, Ambassador UK to Indonesia and Timor Leste, Owen Jenkins made a statement that students should not expect any significant changes living in the UK. He also added that the United Kingdom will be a more open and welcoming place for foreigners, including Indonesians living in the country, in line with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s intention.
It seems though that the UK has thought about maintaining its high reputation as a top study destination. In the same press conference, Jenkins also promoted the opportunity for international students who are looking into continuing education to stay and work in the UK for twenty-four months after graduating. "Foreign students in the UK who start their courses in 2020 will now be allowed to live and work in the UK for two years after they graduate, something that was not possible before," Ambassador Jenkins said in Jakarta.
This would eventually revoke the previous student’s visa regulation as undergraduates and postgraduates are only allowed to stay 4 months after the visa’s expiry.
Besides, scholarships that are available for Indonesian students who wish to continue their studies such as Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) and UK-Backed Chevening are still ever-present to support.
This effort is the country's initiative to maintain the attraction for international students to study in the UK, especially for the EU students. If there are going to be significant changes, the EU passport holders would be the most impacted as the UK are no longer a part of consortium more than other student groups.
In many ways, we shall only wait on the repercussions of the separation agreements that are going to play out. In the meantime, as the UK can stand-alone now, this future endeavor could bring a new and much more attractive market for international students who wish to stay or begin their careers in the UK.