Monday 27-02-2017 - 15:10
Last week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Students held an event on the impact of Brexit on students. Tsvetelina Dobreva, Vice President (Education) at Sunderland Students’ Union, was part of the panel which examined the impact that Brexit will have personally on her and the students she represents. Here are her reflections from the event…
It was a privilege to receive an invitation to join the event last Tuesday in Westminster along with other absolutely amazing individuals such as Beth Button and Gemma Gray from European Students’ Union and Erasmus Plus respectively.
The main concerns expressed were around social mobility of students, of course, for both EU students coming into higher education in the UK and UK students’ opportunities abroad.
As an EU student myself, I felt obliged to not only give the perspective of the students I talked to but also my personal view.
There tends to be an assumption that Brexit is an isolated issue but we cannot disregard the changes in higher education overall and acknowledge that change could be and very likely would be driven from the two factors together, although one of them is more publicly well-known than the other.
It is crucial, to acknowledge that the decrease of applications will lead to worse experience for everyone who is already in the sector, regardless of their label – ‘home’, ‘EU’ or ‘international’.
In the time where the vast majority of institutional income is determined by the number of students and their tuition fees, institutions need to focus on both recruitment and support of students in their journey and let’s face it that would be incredibly difficult if institutions are financially stretched after Brexit.
For my speech, I decided to ask myself what I would do if I was just about to take the first and most crucial steps into my life as an adult by choosing whether and where to go to university. Would I choose to come to the UK if there was a world full of opportunity in front of me? What does this country offer more than any other one under the sun? Would you have made the same decision with the knowledge that you have now? I must admit that my time as a student has been incredibly rewarding but I have also seen the change in the sector that I could not help but have concerns about.
Overall, the experience of being able to present in parliament and hear different concerns and views regarding Brexit was amazing. Undoubtedly, access and social mobility are major concern that the MPs from the APPG are recognising and working on to favour students.
Let’s stay hopeful and continue the work for allowing students to have the life changing experience they deserve.
*The APPG on Students is an informal group of MPs that has an interest in issues affecting students. They regularly hold events in the Houses of Parliament, which the NUS supports to run in our role as the APPGs secretariat. You can follow the group on Twitter @APPGStudents or about attending upcoming events by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.