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Brexit Impact: EU Student Enrollment In UK Universities Plummets

The controversy over the sharp – albeit not unexpected – post-Brexit drop in enrollments of students from EU countries (including Italy) in the often prestigious universities of the United Kingdom has reignited. It is rekindled by a report elaborated by the progressive Guardian on the basis of data already made public last month and then certified by the annual indications of the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The numbers confirm a halving of new enrollments of young Europeans, equal to 53% overall in the 2021/22 academic year compared to the previous year. With a clearer contraction – in order – from Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece and Italy. In absolute terms, continental enrollments have gone from 66,680 to 31,400, with a more marked drop for three-year degrees (from 40,000 to no more than around 15,000), and less for masters and doctorates. While increasing non-EU and local.

The phenomenon is explained by the choice of the Tory government to impose – with the definitive entry into force of the divorce from Brussels in 2020 – a heavy upward adjustment of the fees paid by Europeans, now equal to that of non-EU foreign students: i.e. at a much higher level than the political tariffs (identical to those of British citizens) granted to them until 2019.

Self Defeating

A choice judged “self defeating” for the country and harmful for universities by several anti-Brexiteer academics cited today by the media: such as the political scientist Michael Smith, professor of international relations at the Scottish University of Aberdeen, who has raised the specter of a “huge drain” of brains; o Francesca Ciccarelli, Italian scholar and cancer research specialist at King’s College London, who denounced this scenario as “an absurdity” to be “put to an end soon”, worth – in her opinion – the risk that “science rapidly declines in the UK”.

Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency underline how overall the general number of students enrolled in British universities continues to grow: by a further 2% on an annual basis. And how the haemorrhage of arrivals from the EU is in effect compensated for by the increase both in the enrollment of young people from other foreign countries (China in primis, but also India or the USA, concentrated above all in post-graduate courses), as well as internal British.

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