Preparing for a Full English Brexit

UK universities needed now more than ever

June 30, 2016
Brexit and UK higher education

I'd rather have a full English breakfast

Just in case you've missed it, the UK is heading towards a full English Brexit...a plate full of economic and political instability as the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.

We need a new captain for Boaty McBritain

What started out as a dodgy maneuver to get David Cameron re-elected as Prime Minister via a public referendum has plunged this country into a morass of mayhem. David Cameron may have been re-elected, but last week's Brexit result lead to his announcement that he would resign as PM in October of this year.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, one of the leading "Leave" campaigners for Brexit, announced that he would not attempt to become the next leader of the Conservative Party - a move that surprised many in the UK who had assumed that Johnson would take the Brexit "victory" as a mandate for leadership.

However, as it has become quite clear to anyone in the UK, Boris didn't have a post-Brexit plan at the ready. In fact, following the results of last week, the British economy seems headed for a recession and the pound fell to a new 31-year low against the dollar.

Brexit was and is a bad idea. The fact that so many Brits are suffering from "Regrexit" and would change their vote if they had a "do over" says a lot about the state of things in Brittania. The referendum has done seemingly irreparable harm to the financial well-being of the UK and it seems likely to damage economies in the rest of Europe and around the globe.

Higher education in the UK is going to get very competitive

Brexit will change the UK higher education sector. EU membership currently allows EU citizens to study in the UK with relative ease...and vice versa. Students from the EU pay the same fees as UK students. And, this is just the enrollment/financial side of things. According to polls, an overwhelming majority of UK academics voted to "Remain" in the EU. And, as I posted last year, if Britain formally exits the EU, funding for university research would most likely be dramatically reduced.

In the wake of Brexit, senior leaders at UK universities took to social media to reassure their campus communities and prospective students:

According to Peter Horrocks, Vice Chancellor at the Open University, "this is a time when universities, their capacity for thinking and their values will be required more than ever."

One of the key concerns of UK higher education is the status of the Higher Education and Research Bill. One of the core elements to the bill is the potential shift / increase in student fees and alternative providers. Mark Leach at Wonkhe has come out quite strongly in stating that progress on the bill should be put on pause until Brexit is sorted out. In an HE environment that was already on the brink of becoming much more competitive in terms of enhanced student experience/engagement efforts, Brexit could cause a marked increase in US-centric tactics like strategic enrollment management.

The future of UK higher education as it relates to the student experience is surely going to be a hot topic for policy wonks, administrators, and academics. As AMOSSHE, the UK's professional association for leaders in Student Services, prepares to meet next week at their "Breaking Boundaries" annual conference (theme selection and title prior to Brexit...), it will be interesting to hear what's being done to support students now that a Brexit is in the works.


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