Will Brexit affect students aspiring to study in the UK?

Students applying to study in the United Kingdom (UK) are in a fix following Brexit, the decision of the UK to leave the European Union (EU) with effect from February 1, 2020. While students are worried about changes which might affect opportunities for studying, employment and visa applications, the British Deputy High Commission, the official body that represents the UK government in Mumbai, has assured students Brexit will not affect their career opportunities.

Admissions to UK universities, colleges: Students clueless

Students preparing for admissions to universities and colleges in the UK revealed they have no clue about new laws and changes following Brexit. Tulika Jain, a student who wants to pursue her masters in the UK, said, “I do not know if studying in the UK will be expensive or cheaper or will it not be affected at all. I hope Brexit does not bring about changes in laws.” While Vidhu Perriyar, a student, said, “More than the university, I am concerned about new rules for students and work visas. Now the UK is on its own, they should woo more exchange programmes for global students and simplify the visa process.”

No changes in rules, trade relations till Dec 31, 2020

As of now, the future relationship between the UK and EU will be worked out during the transition period (or the implementation period), which begins immediately after Brexit day and is due to end on December 31, 2020. During this 11-month spell, the UK will continue to follow all the EU’s rules and its trading relationship will remain the same.

Brexit has no relation to no. of Indians studying in UK

The British Deputy High Commission told The Free Press Journal, “The UK government fully recognises the important contribution that international students make to the higher education sector of the UK, both economically and culturally. The government has been clear that it wishes to continue to attract international students to study in the UK, with no plans to impose a limit.”

New provisions: New grad route, post-study offer

On September 11, 2019, the UK announced a new Graduate Route, a new post-study work offer for international students. The representative said the new grad route will be available to students who have completed study at undergraduate (RQF 6) level or above, at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance, and who have a valid Tier 4 visa at the time of application.

The new route will be launched in summer 2021. Anyone who completes an eligible course and has a valid Tier 4 visa will be eligible for the route, regardless of when they started their course. All the students accepted for the grad route will get two years of non-extendable leave. They will be able to work, or look for work, at any skill level, but will not be able to access public funds and settlement rights will not be accrued. A fee will be levied.

New provisions for those seeking employment in UK

Last year, over 56,000 Indian nationals were granted a Tier 2 work visa. In January 2020, the British PM Boris Johnson announced a new Global Talent route would open on February 20, 2020, giving greater opportunity to researchers and specialists from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community.

For qualified doctors and nurses from India, the introduction of an ‘National Health Service (NHS) Fast Track’ will be introduced to allow recruits to the NHS to gain visas more quickly, with less bureaucracy, and for a cheaper fee. The details of how it will work are yet to be confirmed, but India will certainly be a major market, said the High Commission.

More, better job opportunities

Career counsellors who provide guidance for aspiring students to study in the UK claim there will be more employment opportunities. Hitesh Dodiya, a career counsellor said, “Students can now opt for a master’s programme in the UK and apply for a 1+1 year visa in which they will have to complete their course in one year and work the next year. As the UK will not have any intervention from members of the EU now, there will be more vacant posts for employment.”

Studying in Europe and UK simultaneously may be hit

Students applying for programmes involving studying in universities in Europe and the UK do not know if they will be able to do it or will have to restrict only to Europe. Janet Gonsalves, a student, said, “I applied for the Erasmus Master’s programme which allows me to study three semesters in Europe and one in UK. The programme website informed the opportunities are subject to change following Brexit. As the UK is no longer part of the EU, I do not know if I can study one semester in the UK.” To this, the High Commission responded, “As we enter negotiations with the EU, we want to ensure that UK students can continue to benefit from each other’s education systems.”

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