EU students ‘cancel places at Aberystwyth University’ post-Brexit

Education Secretary insists all students will be made to feel welcome in Wales, adding: 'We will not tolerate any form of racial abuse'

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Friday 15 July 2016 14:51
Aberystwyth University undergraduate students, pictured, on campus
Aberystwyth University undergraduate students, pictured, on campus

Around 100 EU students have reportedly cancelled their places at Aberystwyth University in Wales amid concerns of the impact of Brexit.

According to BBC News, the university’s acting vice-chancellor said some 50 prospective students pulled out the day after the shock Leave vote was confirmed, an impact he called “stunning” on the institution’s finances.

A spokesperson for the university told the Independent, however, it was too early to come to any final conclusions on what the potential impact of Brexit will be, but said: “We are pleased we have been able to reassure prospective EU students in our communications with them that we are looking forward to welcoming them.”

The spokesperson also insisted that nothing will change with regards to student recruitment in the immediate future, with the rules around EU nationals who have applied for a place at the university from this August remaining unchanged.

Welsh Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, addressed concerns raised in the aftermath of the EU referendum while touring Swansea University’s new £450 million science and innovations campus on Thursday.

She emphasised how those from across the EU studying at universities in the country are still valued and wanted members of the education community, and also praised EU staff who are vital to the sector.

She acknowledged how the sector is facing “uncertainty and worry” following the referendum, and said: “I want to be clear that students and staff from across the EU are still welcome at all Welsh universities. Those already studying here, and those who are planning to come, are still welcome and our places of learning are still there for you.”

She also made reference to reports regarding the rise in racist and xenophobic incidents across the country, something which also affected a small number of staff and students at the University of Exeter.

On this, Williams said: “Let me be clear: we will not tolerate any form of racial abuse, whether on our campuses or within the wider communities in which we are rooted. Welsh universities will continue to recruit and teach students from the EU and the wider world.

“Our universities are central to our social and economic future, and they thrive through the diversity of the people who come to them.”

The Welsh Government, she concluded, is “determined” to protect the country’s reputation as a friendly and tolerant place to study and carry out world-class research, adding: “Whatever the long-term implication of the vote, we remain an outward-looking and welcoming nation where we are committed to sharing knowledge across national borders.”

Universities UK also moved to remind prospective EU students that there will not be any immediate change to the immigration status of current students, further emphasising they will have access to the fees and support system for the duration of their course, even courses starting this autumn.

Maastricht University (UM) in the Netherlands - one of the world’s top young universities - also recently warned UK students to apply as soon as they can if they want to continue enjoying low tuition fees of £1,600 a year before Britain officially leaves the union. UM said the amount could rise to £8,360, considering the UK does not join the European Economic Area.

However, UM president, Professor Martin Paul, said: “We are asking British students to continue to apply to Maastricht. The university welcomes students from the UK because they are contributing to and benefitting from our international atmosphere.”

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