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Huge drop in EU students at British universities as Brexit bites

Brexit is being keenly felt in the halls of Britain's universities this September, with a massive drop in EU student enrollments that will cost many of the country's prestigious academic institutions dearly.

London, 5 September 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Brexit is being keenly felt in the halls of Britain’s universities this September, with a massive drop in EU student enrollments that will cost many of the country’s prestigious academic institutions dearly.

According to figures provided by the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service, the total number of EU students enrolling in British universities this autumn stands at 11,700, down from 27,750 last year.

While the coronavirus pandemic has inevitably had an effect on international student numbers, there is no doubt among academics that the main reason for the drop is the knock-on effects of Brexit, which include significantly higher tuition fees and far more bureaucracy.

A year ago, it remained very straightforward for EU citizens to study in Britain, with a transition agreement essentially meaning there had been no change since Brexit.

However, since then, Britain has withdrawn from the EU’s own exchange program Erasmus, and EU students now have to apply for a visa to study in Britain, which is an expensive, time consuming and lengthy process.

A further deterrent is that Britain now classifies EU students as overseas students. Whereas EU citizens in England previously paid the same amount as British students, or a maximum of 9,250 pounds (12,825 dollars) in tuition fees per year, those enrolling this year will have to pay more than double that amount, and in some cases more than triple that amount.

“When Great Britain was still part of the European Union, there was the principle of equality. Everyone had to pay the same tuition fees,” said Ulrich Hoppe, head of the German-British Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) in London. “That has now changed.”

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