Challenges of Brexit Facing Our Universities and Colleges; Brexit and Welsh Universities and Colleges: What Are the Challenges, and Are There Any Opportunities? Phil Boshier from the National Assembly Research Service Takes a Look

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 5, 2018 | Go to article overview

Challenges of Brexit Facing Our Universities and Colleges; Brexit and Welsh Universities and Colleges: What Are the Challenges, and Are There Any Opportunities? Phil Boshier from the National Assembly Research Service Takes a Look


FIRST Minister Carwyn Jones has said, "Brexit poses different challenges and opportunities for each and every aspect of Welsh life."

This article briefly explores some of the opportunities and challenges universities and colleges face as the United Kingdom continues toward its exit from the European Union.

EU staff and students coming to the UK now do so under the existing free movement frameworks. Other international staff and students are dealt with under different Immigration Rules.

It is not yet clear what the immigration rules will look like in the future, but UK government guidance suggests a system which is more restrictive for EU citizens.

Universities Wales argues that this would likely result in a fall in EU students, leading to a negative impact on the experiences of students and staff.

Cardiff University suggests the reduction could be as much as 80-90% of the current number of EU undergraduate students.

In the academic year 2016/17 there were 6,235 EU students enrolled on a higher education qualification in Wales compared to 5,500 in 2012/13.

There were almost no EU students enrolled in further education in 2016/17.

Latest admissions data shows higher education EU applicant numbers for 2018 are currently 2% higher than in 2017 across the whole of the UK. For Welsh institutions, however, the 2018 applicant numbers from EU countries are 9% lower than 2017.

The reduction in EU applicants to Welsh institutions comes at the same time as EU students start paying the full tuition fee as a result of the recent Diamond Review.

A significant number of Welsh university staff are recorded as being from the EU with Universities Wales stating that there were 1,355 staff from the EU working within Welsh Universities in 2015/16. It estimates that was more than 10% of the workforce at Welsh universities. There are more than twice the number of non-EU international students enrolled on a higher education qualification in Wales compared to EU students. In 2016/17 there were 14,970 non-EU international students in Wales. This is more than 11% of the total number of students enrolled at Welsh Universities.

In 2015/16 Welsh universities reported receiving a total of PS209m from research grants and contracts, of which 12% (PS25m) was from EU sources. This compares to 35% (PS73m) received from UK Government funded Research Councils. One of the sources of EU research funding for Welsh universities is the [euro]70bn Horizon 2020 EU research programme which runs from 2014 to 2020.

As reported by the Welsh Government, Wales has received [euro]83m from the programme up to September 2017 with allocations to universities accounting for 66% of this sum.

The UK Government has published a document which it says "clarifies the UK's eligibility to participate in Horizon 2020."

In it, the UK Government says that in light of negotiations to date it "envisages that existing projects will continue to receive an uninterrupted flow of EU funding for the lifetime of the project" and that "UK participants will be eligible to bid for Horizon 2020 funding for the duration of the programme, including after the UK's withdrawal from the EU".

Both the UK and Welsh Government's have a stated aim to benefit from Horizon 2020s successor programme known as Horizon Europe. Horizon Europe will run from 2021 to 2027 and is worth [euro]100b. Recent EU proposals suggest that the UK may be able to access Horizon Europe as a "third country". …

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