There was some trepidation among the hundreds of Luxembourgers studying in Britain following the UK’s vote in favour of a Brexit.
Around 1,200 students from Luxembourg are currently studying in British universities.
While most universities sought to reassure students from EU member states there would be no change during the next two years of negotiations, the anti-immigrant fervour given vent after the vote left some uncomfortable about returning for the next year.
“Even though none of my British friends voted for the Brexit, I have mixed feelings when it comes to going back to Canterbury in September knowing very well that 52 percent do not want foreigners to take up “there places” at university and work,” said Lis Kayser, secretary of the Society of Luxembourg Students in Britain (SLSB), preparing for her second year of a BA in Literature and History at the University of Kent.
Further north, the atmosphere was tense well before the June 23 vote. Within months of moving to the UK, Charlotte Godziewski, a Phd student in political sciences at Manchester University, noticed a palpable hostility towards foreigners.
“There was a time on Twitter when I posted something about the xenophobic nature of the Leave campaign. One of the replies I got was directed at my Polish origins. I’ve just arrived in this country but I have felt a hostile atmosphere in some places.”
Other students felt the atmosphere would remain foreigner-friendly at their respective universities, especially given that the majority of young voters supported remaining.
Uncertainty over student fees post Brexit
On the whole, Luxembourgish students currently studying in the UK were less concerned about the impact on fees, believing any changes would come into effect after they had completed their studies. But, for potential future students, the financial implications could become a major turn-off.
Currently, Luxembourgish undergraduate students pay the same university fees as British students: 9,000 GBP per year in England while undergraduate study in Scotland is free. But no-one knows if this will remain the case post Brexit.
“After the UK leaves the EU these fees could dramatically be increased to 15,000-30,000 GBP, depending on the course and university. Medicine studies would even cost more than 40,000 GBP” said SLSB Treasurer Alex Mersch, who is in his second year of a BSC in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College.
Lis Kayser fears that in the long-term “studying in the UK will be linked to huge financial and bureaucratic hurdles that will make the UK less attractive. Personally I think this is a pity because I enjoy studying in the UK very much.”
Jeff D, who will this year complete his Master of Science in the UK, said ultimately, it will be the UK that loses out if that is the case. “The UK will unfortunately miss out on many talented EU students who will favour other European destinations with more affordable fees.”