Uncertainty for future of EU students at British universities

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European students face uncertainty on where they stand. Photo: BBC News

The result of the historic European referendum was met with astonishment and disbelief across the world when the majority of the UK chose to leave, but hidden between the animosity and discussions, there is an entire student body who do not know where they stand.

The uncertainty of what awaits has been a mainstay of the past few months in all areas after the vote and this had led to a feeling of unease among European students.

It is impossible to predict what is in store for EU students at universities across the UK, however if the government get their way, it looks increasingly likely that higher tuition fees could be on the way and depending on visas, students will be unable to remain here after their degrees are completed.

Margareta Rončević, a 20-year-old politics student from Croatia, began her studies at Stirling in September this year and said that the disappointing outcome had impacted her, and although she loves Scotland, staying here post-Brexit doesn’t seem too appealing.

She said: “I wanted to study here and this is a great place for study but afterwards, I’m not sure. After the Brexit result I’m just not quite keen on staying.

“I love Scotland and the people are great here and towards everyone from the EU. They’re really welcoming. But then again, if you remain in the UK, it’s going to be different and I don’t want to live somewhere I’m not welcome.”

While there is assurance that nothing immediately will change and students can continue their degree as normal, EU students have been disheartened by the result.

In fact, students may be put off coming to study here, which Universities Scotland warns could “intellectually and culturally impoverish” the UK if the number of European students in Britain drops.

Margareta certainly worries that students may look else where to study. She said: “I know that people are discouraged to go study here. I was discouraged even though I’m guaranteed that I can finish my degree.

“So I think that people are going to be very discouraged to go because for people from Croatia or that part of Europe, it’s very expensive to study, for example, in England, so I don’t think that there will be as many international people as before, which is a shame because that is kind of the beauty of studying here.

The increase in hate crime across the country may deter international students from coming to the UK.

Maragreta worries about what is in store for international students if the government continue their hate on immigration, saying she fears many will feel unwelcome in the UK.

“I do worry about what will happen because it is the wrong message that the UK is sending to the world, basically saying, ‘you’re not welcome’, when in reality it isn’t really like that”, she said.

“I feel wanted here, the professors are really happy when you say you’re from another country and people are really happy to know people from other places. But after my generation of students leave, it seems like it will be quite different for them.

“In Scotland it is very different than in England. It’s not at all bad here. I didn’t feel any hatred or anything. But I think if I was studying in England it would be very different. I have quite a few friends who are studying there and they told me between young people there’s a big division.

“There are young people who wanted to leave the EU but who are not racist, they just wanted to leave, but don’t want people coming in that much, so you’re basically telling me that you’re my friend but you don’t want me here.”

Gerry McCormac, University of Stirling Principal offered support to students, reassuring that there would be no immediate changes, he said: “Without unilateral action from the UK government the vote to leave will have no immediate impact on your immigration status or on the status of current and prospective EU students…

“The value of young people from across Europe living and learning together is immeasurable and we will do everything possible to ensure that this is not diminished in any way.”

The encouraging message from the university will make students  relieved but with uncertainty surrounding what Brexit means, there is anticipation over what follows.

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