The Week in Education – 03.11.2017


Date of Publication: 03 November 2017

Providing your essential education and university news. This week; what can hopeful EU students expect after Brexit, Finland step up their game for international students and how the Trump administration could affect US institutes.


Loans For EU students Post-Brexit?

As the ramifications of the UK’s divisive Brexit vote continue to unfold, one of the many questions the Government finds themselves presented with is how best to structure continued access to UK universities for EU students.

To facilitate this and inform discussions around future trade agreements, the UK Government is exploring the idea of providing public student loans for overseas students studying at British universities. The need for this has arisen due to the likelihood that EU students will lose access to the Student Loans Company post-Brexit. The Student Loans Company is a service which assists in the payment of UK university fees; the importance of which is only magnified once Britain leaves the EU and EU students are confronted by the same full fees as non-EU students.

London Economics analysis suggests that although new enrolments from the EU could decline by 57% (~30k students), the net effect of depreciation in sterling and higher fees for EU students could mean a Brexit dividend of £187M for UK universities. However bearing in mind the climate established by that same deprecation and the unfortunate fact that as many as 83% of university leavers are not expected to pay off their student loans, the initiative requires lengthy consideration before a decision can be made.

Finland Aim To Boost International Applicants

Five Finnish universities have partnered with education start-up Edunation with the goal of bringing an additional 150,000 international students to the region by 2020.

This follows a 23% drop in residence permits from international students versus 2016. The scheme involves a hefty review of the current cumbersome application process alongside development of a mobile app, providing a customised experience for the platform and application updates for prospective students within the day.

Edunation chair Thomas Kauppinen is looking to focus this expansion in China and India, citing “more than half of the world’s exchange students come from Asian countries,” along with leveraging existing relationships in Argentina and Nigeria.

Further Education & The Trump Administration

While the Trump administration has outlined no specific strategy relating to higher education, several of the initiatives released so far are likely to have a significant impact on colleges and universities.

The US Department of Education is looking at a potential budget reduction of $9Bn which will impact on student loan programmes and aid for low-income students. Additionally, a new program called Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (or FOCUS) would encourage pushing students from under-performing schools to better schools in wealthier districts – potentially undermining the current option where districts may concentrate funds in poorer schools in an attempt to elevate them

The plan to curtail the numbers of visas for foreign nationals entering the US may impact the capability to fill research programmes and university posts to the highest standard, though in tandem with the calls for “merit-based” allocation it is difficult to truly understand the consequences of this.

Finally, the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act poses a threat to education programmes as a result of the pressure it will place on states’ higher education affordability. With no clear plan in place for higher education, some consider the best path for US institutes being simply to soldier on and pray that they remain under the radar.

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