EU Referendum

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shutterstock_405804493 Brexit: Flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union to illustrate possible exit of Great Britain from the EU


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How will the European Union referendum impact universities, schools and students?

“Sir Winston Churchill, was in very large part responsible for the birth of the post-war European project.” (Danny Dorling)

It is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk with an unknown thing. But, how true is this for the British public who will be heading to the polling booths this month to vote on whether to leave or to remain in the European Union (EU)?

In this blog, I consider a balanced view on the impact either vote will have on education in the UK.

If the UK were a far more progressive state, at the forefront of social progress on this continent, we might have cause to grumble that Brussels was holding us back. (Times Higher Education)

Education and the EU:

According to Jonathan Wolff, professor of philosophy at University College London:

“What would happen if the UK left the EU? The doomsday prediction is that all this would disappear. It would be the end of mass year-abroad education. EU students would stop coming to the UK, and we would see large-scale course cancellations, redundancies and perhaps the closure of some universities.” (The Guardian)

EU membership has a significant effect on students in the UK and across Europe.

Here I aim to offer a collation of statements that are balanced and help raise awareness for teachers working in the UK. Either way, this is what the UK (education sector) should be hoping to achieve:

  1. Support growth by educating people and creating jobs,
  2. Encourage home-grown enterprise and attract top students to the UK.
  3. Carry out cutting-edge research, working to achieve more than we already can …
  4. Attract the world’s most talented people to the UK.
  5. Raise the status of education and achievement in the UK.

shutterstock_377674546 eu british referendum europe union exit britain break vector illustration vector

Image: Shutterstock


Here are some benefits for remaining in the EU:

  • Inside the EU, education is part of the strongest knowledge-producing region in the world.
  • EU freedom means UK students can study abroad.
  • 125,000 non-EU students register to study in the UK. This brings over £2.7Bn to the British economy. (UKCISA)
  • While the UK does pay membership fees to the EU, the financial return on universities represents a profit.
  • In 2012–13, 27,147 EU students came to study or work (train/teach) in the UK with an Erasmus grant.
  • EU students (i.e. home students) fees are generally lower or non-existent.
  • Students who have done an Erasmus placement are 50% less likely to experience long-term unemployment than their counterparts who stayed at home.
  • Scottish students studying in EU universities can apply for the same bursary as students attending a Scottish university.
  • EU staff make up 15% of the academic workforce and Staff from the EU add to the excellence of UK research.
  • The UK has succeeded in winning over 20% of the funding allocated which equates to 900,000 jobs.
  • Over 60% of the UK’s internationally co-authored papers are with partners inside the EU.

Erasmus is not just an exchange scheme for students: in 2012-2013 more than 52 600 academic and administrative staff received funding from Erasmus to teach or train abroad.

Image: European Commission


Here are some benefits for leaving in the EU:

  • There are currently cheaper costs for UK students to study abroad. Would this increase? (Erasmus)
  • Twice as many students enter the UK to study, than the number leaving. Would this decrease further? (Source)
  • Higher fees for overseas students could allow the universities to halve class numbers, but maintain revenue?
  • Research funding would become insecure and lead to reduced programmes.
  • This would also reduce the ability to shape or influence research programmes and projects.
  • Research would be focused at a national level, rather that internationally.
  • The UK already spends significantly less on research than our competitors. Would this reduce further?
  • The ability to work with partners beyond the EU would be impacted by leaving the EU.

*the above statements are a possible alternative to what we already have. It is not worded intentionally to suggest a bias.


For the past few days, I have been running a Twitter poll. You can vote until 16th June 2016.

Twitter Poll Brexit EU Referendum

… history teaches us that it is better to be on the inside arguing for change, than on the outside knocking plaintively on the door. (Danny Dorling)

At a local level working in a large secondary school in North London, the recruitment crisis is being felt strongly on the ground. The decisions I am making weekly to appoint the right teachers in front of our students is already challenging. I do wonder if leaving the EU will make movement of qualified teachers even harder to source.

This aside, the majority of appointments from supply agencies still appear to be largely from Commonwealth states. Either way, no one really knows for sure. It’s ‘better the devil you know’ at the moment!


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