While 770 students moved to the UK in 2018-19, only 439 Flemish students are now studying there. A decrease of 44 percent, according to figures provided by Flemish Member of Parliament Brecht Warnes (CD&V). Request from Education Secretary Ben Wittes (N-VA). Since Brexit, studying in the UK has become much less attractive and much more difficult. After Brexit, the UK also left the popular Erasmus+ project. As a result, Flemish students who dream of attending Oxford, Cambridge or any other British school can no longer resort to Erasmus+ and the associated scholarship.
In addition to the additional paperwork related to visas and insurance, withdrawing from the UK essentially entails additional costs. For example, Flemish students must pay their own travel and accommodation costs, among other things. They also no longer have a low study rate. This way the registration fee quickly rises to £20,000 (approximately €23,000). At least ten times what you pay here in Belgium.
“Unacceptable,” Warnes says. “British students are welcome here. But if our students have to pay exorbitant registration fees to study there, that is wrong. A little solidarity and mutual respect is allowed.”
British students can therefore still study in Belgian schools. “This still happens frequently, usually with the support of the Turing program,” says VUB. This is the British counterpart to the European Erasmus+ programme, a system into which the government in Westminster has pumped more than $100 million over the past two years.
“But it cannot match the European system in terms of size, ease of use and brand awareness,” says Minister Wittes. In response, he increased the budget to support Erasmus students moving to non-EU countries from €1.3 million to €2.3 million.
“But this is too limited to have an impact, due to the high student fees in the UK,” Warnes says. “Minister Wits must consult with his British colleagues. Otherwise the exchange with the UK risks developing into a privilege for only the wealthiest students.
Surprisingly, university students in particular seem to be canceling their UK Erasmus schemes. Among them, the number of young people traveling to the UK has fallen by almost 60% since Brexit. Universities appear less likely to be bogged down by financial and administrative hassles, being only 6 percent more likely to choose another destination.
Makes sense, according to Warnes. “University students often go for a short period or just to train. As a result, the cost of admission for them is much higher than for university graduates. In most cases they stay for at least a year.”
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