Brexit concerns must be addressed so we don’t lose international students

Following news today that international students boost the Northern Ireland economy to the value of £170m, NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes has said that students’ concerns about Brexit must be acted upon to try and ensure there’s no decrease in international students here post-Brexit. This figure comes from a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute and in 2015/16, 2,445 international students commenced undergraduate or postgraduate courses here.

NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes said “The significant uncertainty about the impact of leaving the EU is likely to have an extremely detrimental impact upon international student numbers, as well as EU student numbers here.

“For students to be able to plan their future educational path, it is essential that certainty is provided on issues like the right to remain here and on future visa ramifications for students.

“We want to ensure that Northern Ireland and the UK is welcoming and attracts as many international and EU students as possible. International students must not be seen as cash cows and we are worried that international student fees could rise as a result of Brexit as these students may be cynically used to make up for any loss of EU research and other funding. The social impact that international and EU students have is absolutely vital to society and the student experience in Northern Ireland and the UK, and helps promote good relations and global co-operation.

“NUS-USI is extremely concerned about the impact of Brexit, and we believe action is essential on the following key points. We believe guarantees are vital to protect student and apprentice mobility cross-border, and we want the common travel area to be protected. We also believe EU citizens who are students or apprentices should in Northern Ireland and Great Britain must have the right to remain here. NUS-USI also believes continued access to EU funding on teaching and learning, EU student and academic mobility and exchange programmes is essential. Also, there must be no increase in fees or additional barriers put in place for students studying on a cross-border or EU-wide basis.”

“If these very reasonable asks are met, we believe that this gives Northern Ireland a chance to try and maintain EU and international student numbers and retain academic opportunities for students.”

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