Press release: HEPI and Kaplan publish report on the effects of Brexit on UK universities

12 Jan 2017 - Press release

Universities could lose students while gaining financially from Brexit, but any new restrictions on international students could cost the UK economy an additional £2 billion a year

Today, the Higher Education Policy Institute and Kaplan International publish the first detailed modelling on what the potential effects of Brexit on UK universities could be, as well as what other global changes could mean for demand at UK universities from international students.

The research, published as 'The determinants of international demand for UK higher educationand undertaken by London Economics, reveals a mixed picture. Some changes (e.g. higher fees for EU students) would reduce demand. Others (e.g. depreciation of sterling) would increase demand by reducing the price of studying in the UK for those from other countries.

Taken together, the changes could reduce the total number of students from overseas in the UK, thereby harming universities and their communities. At the same time, they could increase tuition fee income by £187 million (net) in the first year alone, as fees for students from EU members rise:

The modelling additionally shows that:

The effects of Brexit on UK universities and the economy if new restrictions are placed on international student visas

The Home Office has promised to consult on making it harder for international students to come and study in the UK. This puts all the positive effects of current global changes at risk while doing nothing to ease the negative effects. If the extra 20,000 students a year who are expected to come to the UK as a result of the depreciation of sterling were not allowed to come, then they could not (partially) offset the lost EU students. The total loss to the UK economy could amount to almost £2 billion a year in steady state, made up from:

This loss would be additional to the billions of pounds that would be at risk from any big cut in the number of international visas for students.

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said:

"British universities are in choppy waters and this research shows the options ahead. Policymakers can either push our higher education institutions towards the icebergs or help them reach the relative safety of the open seas. Were the Home Office to conduct yet another crackdown on international students, then the UK could lose out on £2 billion a year just when we need to show we are open for business like never before. Removing international students from the net migration target would be an easy, costless and swift way to signal a change in direction."

Linda Cowan, Managing Director (UK) of Kaplan International Pathways, said:

"Post-Brexit, changes around the status of EU students in the UK, and on-going talk of further international student regulations make forecasting student numbers and revenues more difficult than ever for universities. Compounding these challenges is the uncertainty this creates for international students, increasing the likelihood of students choosing to study in other countries, resulting in a significant loss for our universities and the communities they enrich."

Gavan Conlon and Maike Halterbeck, researchers at London Economics and authors of the report, said:

"In a period of significant economic uncertainty, there are substantial export opportunities available to UK higher education institutions. However, these opportunities can only be seized if universities are allowed to deliver them.  With an economic value of £2 billion per annum, there is ample reason to allow more international students to come and study in the UK, thereby boosting UK prosperity, as well as maintaining the UK’s global reach and influence."

Read the HEPI Report (91) 'The determinants of international demand for UK higher education'

A longer report with detailed analysis is available for download here

More reports from Kaplan International Pathways

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