Brexit and Student Mobility

The EUA explores Brexit’s potential impact on European universities.

After the U.K. voted last year to leave the European Union, the Eu­ropean University Association (EUA) immediately began exploring the impact of that referendum—known as Brexit. The association recently released its second factsheet on Brexit, which outlines the U.K.’s importance to European higher education and warns of Brex­it’s possible consequences for European universities.

According to the EUA’s data, more than 330,000 publications were the product of collaborations between U.K. and European researchers between 2003 and 2012. The U.K. also is the No. 1 des­tination for the continent’s mobile students. Nearly 30 percent of these students—more than 200,000—enroll in schools in the U.K.

Once the U.K. officially leaves the E.U. in two years, many fear that European students and researchers who wish to study at or work with U.K. institutions could face increased obstacles, from higher fees to decreased access to funding to difficulty attaining visas. As a result, the prominent role U.K. institutions play in the continent’s higher ed framework could be in jeopardy, says Thomas Jorgensen, EUA’s senior policy coordinator.

The EUA will continue its work to keep ties strong between U.K. and European universities, Jorgensen emphasizes. “The European system as a whole will suffer if [the U.K.’s] contribution is diminished as a result of Brexit,” he says. “Mobility and collaboration are demon­strably increasing the quality of research and learning, and the U.K. plays a part in these collaborations that cannot be replaced.”


See the EUA’s factsheet at www.eua.be/Libraries/publications-homepage-list/eua-brexit-factsheet-research-­collaboration-and-student-mobility. The association released an earlier factsheet on Brexit’s impact on Horizon 2020, which focuses on funding European research, and Erasmus+, which supports educational cooperation and mobility on the continent. That document is available at www.eua.be/Libraries/publications-homepage-list/after-the-brexit-referendum­possible-outcomes-for-horizon-2020-and-erasmus.pdf.

This article appeared in print in the March/April 2017 issue.