Universities could make big bucks from Brexit – despite losing students

By Kitty Knowles 12 January 2017
UK universities face new challenges ahead. Pic: fstop123.

But we need to keep our arms open to international income.

We know that a lot of incoming fund to British universities comes from foreign students.

Today in the wake of Brexit, the source of this income is likely to grow – as long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with lone islander ideas.

Swings and roundabouts

On the whole, universities could well lose international students, a new study from the Higher Education Policy Institute and Kaplan International suggests today in London Economics.

But they will likely do so while gaining financially.

That’s because while some changes (including higher fees for EU students) look likely to reduce demand from EU countries; others (like the falling pound) may be appealing to other international students, as it reduces the price of studying in the UK overall.

Taken together, the economic researchers suggest that the total number of students from overseas will drop, but tuition fee income tuition fee income will be boosted by another £187m from the effects of Brexit as fees for students from EU members rise.

The facts:

  • The pound falling by 10% could increase enrolments from all other countries by around 20,000 students – an increase of 9% – in the first year, bringing in an extra £227m in fees.
  • Conversely, making EU students pay the same as other international non-EU students could turn-off 31,000 EU students from studying in the UK (a 57% decline) – a loss to Universities of £40m in the first year.
  • The oldest universities will pocket the most cash from Brexit, with Oxford and Cambridge standing to receive over £10m more in fees each year on average, while less prestigious universities stand to to lose around £100,000 on average.

Change is already afoot

This rosey(ish) outlook could easily fall apart, if planned changes to regulation take place.

The Home Office has promised to consult on making it harder for international students to come and study in the UK, putting all the positive at risk, while doing little to ease the negative effects.

For example, if the extra 20,000 students a year who are expected to come to the UK as a result of the cheap pound were not allowed to come, then universities could see huge losses in their budgets.

On a knife edge

“British universities are in choppy waters,” Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said of the findings.

“Policymakers can either push our higher education institutions towards the icebergs or help them reach the relative safety of the open seas.”

If the Home Office cracks down on international students, then the UK will lose out.

Food for thought.

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