Britain’s universities are finding it hard to look on the bright side of Brexit. One of their big gripes is that they feel that foreign students could be put off from coming to the UK. This fits into the narrative that Brexit is an exercise in hauling up the drawbridge. But in reality, the result of the referendum isn’t necessarily bad news for universities – especially ones that hope to attract overseas students. What’s more, Brexit might even encourage rather than put off foreign students from applying here, because the fall in the value of sterling is making the cost of a pricey British degree cheaper for them.
A report published in the FT from the Oxford Migration Observatory reveals that students from abroad are now paying as much as a fifth less for their degrees than they would have done before the referendum. On the day before the vote last June, the pound was worth 1.3 euros; now, it’s dropped down to 1.16 euros. And for foreign students, this means more books for their bucks. For students from America, the cost of a British degree is down 17 per cent; for those paying in euros, fees are ten per cent cheaper; and Chinese students – who make up the biggest group of foreign students in Britain – would save around £1,690 if they paid for their degree after, rather than before, the result of the referendum. The fall in sterling isn’t all good news, of course. But universities must admit that there are some upsides to Brexit.