Brexit, or the UK’s exit from the European Union, is finally a fact. The agreement, reached in the final days of 2020, changes many aspects of the relationship between the EU and Britain, including higher education and implications for post-graduation career opportunities.
First, what has changed for EU citizens planning to start degree studies in Britain, and vice versa? What should MBA aspirants know about studying in the UK in terms of planning and budgeting for business school and post-MBA job search?
EU citizens studying in the UK
The major impact of Brexit on students falls into two main categories – fees and visas.
Students from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who begin a course from the 2021–22 academic year in England, Scotland and Wales will no longer have home fee status or access to the financial support the UK offers. The home status allowed EU, EEA and Swiss nationals to pay the lower tuition fees which British nationals pay. But since MBA tuition fees are typically the same for everyone irrespective of their status, this change will barely affect MBA students.
Citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland who want to study in Britain from the 2021–22 academic year onward will have to apply for a visa. However, they will not need a visa if they will be studying in the UK at an accredited institution for six months or less. Students can apply for a visa up to six months before their course starts. All international MBA graduates, including those from the EU, will be allowed to stay in Britain for two years after graduation.
UK citizens studying in the EU
UK nationals who want to study in the EU after 1 January 2021 will need to make sure they meet all visa requirements of the respective country. Also, they need to contact their business school or relevant institutions to get familiar with all the changes. Here are the main aspects they can check:
- tuition fees
- funding schemes, bursaries or scholarships
- changes to healthcare and travel insurance policies
Some international prospective applicants may be led to believe that these new changes make it almost impossible for students to come to the UK. This is not true, says Flavio Bishop Cabral, director of strategic partnerships at Advent Group. “International students are more than welcome to come to the UK but they must be aware that the UK consists of four nations that can determine their own rules to a certain extent,” he added. Then there are the different schools, which have their own strategies.
This means that students need to research the specific rules in the country where they want to study, be it England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but also the concrete guidelines at the universities of their choice. One of the best ways to get valuable information directly from business schools is by attending an Access MBA online One-to-One event and talking to admission directors.
More time to find a job
So, is studying in the UK still worth it after Brexit? Yes, says Flavio, pointing out that the level of education, the networking opportunities, and the entrepreneurial spirit have not changed.
In fact, the changes to the UK post-study work visa will bring much awaited relief to international students outside of the EU because now they will be able to live and work for two years after completing their programme. There are also no restrictions on the kind of job they can do during that time. Under previous UK work visa rules, graduates could remain in the UK for only four months.
“It definitely improves the attractiveness of the country as a study destination. It buys students more time to find jobs, giving them more security and confidence before making such a big investment decision [to do an MBA],” Riya Katyal, who graduated from the one-year MBA at Imperial College Business School in 2019, told find-mba.com. She couldn’t take advantage of the new rules but believes they will be of great help to overseas students.
Top employers look for international talent
But even for EU citizens, the hassle of obtaining a visa is a small price to pay considering the business prospects in the UK. Top employers and jobs remain in abundance for international talent.
“The UK is a particularly interesting place for students to study business at the moment because not only has a global pandemic impacted business practices, but Brexit will test companies in new ways, and encourage fresh thinking beyond Europe and into global markets both familiar and unfamiliar. Companies and organisations will be looking at a diverse group of individuals to help meet their strategic and operational objectives,” Rohit Kumar, head of international recruitment at the University of Liverpool, told mba.com.
Brexit is a fact, but if you are an EU citizen it should not discourage you from pursuing your dream of studying in the UK, still one of the best places to get top-class business education. Instead of focusing on the administrative changes, try to spot the new and exciting opportunities that an MBA in the UK will offer.