Britain’s referendum on whether to stay in the EU or not, will take place in June and the lives of British and European students may change when it comes to mobility for education and jobs.
After a long campaign by EU opponents for a referendum on European Union membership, Britons will finally be given a chance to vote on whether Britain should stay in or leave the EU on Thursday, June 23.
At the moment, European students have an advantage over the students from rest of the world, when it comes to inter-continental mobility and grabbing academic opportunities. No study visas are needed and they can move freely between countries to study anywhere in the EU.
But what would happen to the Erasmus scheme if Britain votes to leave is a question being asked by many UK and European students.
Italian student, Giuseppe Ferro, says, “I probably wouldn’t have considered the United Kingdom to do my master’s degree if the country wasn’t in the European Union, mainly because of the tuition fees.”
The Senior International Officer for Europe at Nottingham Trent University, Mr. Nick Cuthbert, says that the European students constitute the second biggest student population after the ones who come from Asia.
The main reason for that is because these students have the access to funding, jobs and community benefits.
Currently, NTU is home to hundreds of students from the EU and this may drastically drop, if the Brexit happens. Also, the benefit of millions of pounds from the European students may be seen as a sudden cutback from our sources of income.
But Brexit campaigners argue that the UK could still have student exchange schemes with other countries if it left the EU. They also say it would release billions of pounds currently paid by Britain to the European Union, some of which could be used to finance the programmes.
“Britain, as a whole, benefits over a billion pounds just from the students who come from the EU and also gets millions of pounds towards the development of its home students. After Brexit, is the Westminster Government prepared to fix this?”- Karen Ivey, the Erasmus Exchange Officer at NTU.
One of the main concerns for Karen Ivey, is that UK students will lose out on the European mobility grant, which is worth around 250 euros per month during their mobility. This amount is given to each student as subsistence during their foreign stay within Erasmus exchange.
But Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, and a leading campaigner to leave the EU, believes that leaving is a better option for British students.
“We would take control of £350 million per week, which we pay for our EU membership. This money we can always invest in our education system and for the benefit of our people.”
MICHAEL GOVE, JUSTICE SECRETARY
He also adds that maintaining exchange partnerships with universities in other countries is possible even after the Brexit.
With less than two months left for the referendum, there are a number of student-led campaigns, which are actively working to support whether to stay in or come out of the EU.