It is a common saying that “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” Brexit has done the opposite; when the UK closed its door to the EU, it slammed a hundred other doors shut in its wake. It didn’t open a window but rather left behind a mirror for the whole country to reflect who is responsible for the effects of its grave mistake.
I am a British citizen studying in high school and, like many others, have fallen prey to decisions that I couldn’t influence, despite their longlasting and devastating effects. None of us under 18 were given a vote in the referendum regarding whether the UK should leave the EU or not, although the consequences will be of utmost severity to us.
British students all over the world have felt the aftermath of Brexit and will continue to for a long time. Our dreams of studying in other European countries have been shattered. As a result of the impending Brexit, British citizens who had hoped to study and work freely in the EU countries with without visas can no longer do so. The benefit of domestic fees and financial aid is also lost.
I have long dreamed of studying fashion design, so places in Italy, France, and Spain were all on my agenda, either for work or study. However, now that is highly doubtful, as by 2020, my graduation year, the calamitous changes wrought by Brexit will be set in full motion. Many other high schools students will also be facing the same predicament.
Although the younger generation are the ones who will have to live and deal with this fiasco the longest, the voting system did not allow for our voices to be heard. Apart from those under 18 not being able to vote, 73 percent of citizens from 18-24 still voted to remain, understanding what would happen to them if the UK left the EU. On the contrary, 60 percent of those 65 and older voted to stay and in the end, they won by a miniscule gap of 2 percent.
With such a small difference in the voting results, allowing those under 16 to vote would have made a big difference and possibly turned the results. Unfortunately, they weren’t, even though citizens aged 80 or even 90, 120,000 of whom have already died, were given a vote. Was this fair? I’m sure the younger generation doesn’t think so, but once again, our views won’t be reflected.
Those who oppose this argument say that many of the young people aged 18-24 who were given a chance to vote didn’t, and if they had maybe the result would’ve been different. Although this is valid, it still doesn’t account for the votes lost from those under 18 who weren’t even allowed.
My great aunt, an 80-year-old British citizen living in Leeds, says she had personally wanted to vote leave, but for the sake of her children and grandchildren she did in fact vote to stay. Many of the friends and neighbors her age felt the same way; the negative impacts wouldn’t affect them, but they knew its implications for the younger generation.
However, many other people her age either don’t have any children and grandchildren to influence their decision or just went with their own personal belief and disregarded its negative effects.
It is understandable that, at a glance, Brexit may have seemed like a positive endeavor. It promised more taxpayer money invested within the UK and not wasted on Europe, fewer immigrants, control over our own laws and regulations, as well as economic growth.
Had the effects on students been fully considered, Brexit would never have gone through. The average price for colleges in the EU for EU citizens is around 4,500-5,100 euros, depending on the level of education. Now that the UK is on its way out of the EU, students will have to pay the international rate, which is 8,600-10,200 euros, basically double. This is further compounded by the loss of subsidised housing that is available to EU students. In some places, like Belgium, Denmark, and Ireland, universities are even free for EU citizens.
Programmes helping EU students, such as Erasmus, will no longer be available to British students. The Erasmus programme aids EU citizens who want to study abroad with specialized scholarships, placement programs, and such. British students will lose access to all of these benefits.
Other international programmes and projects that will benefit the UK have also been cut. An example would be the joint European satellite system, called the Galileo Project. Research projects such as these that aim to facilitate for all EU countries won’t include the UK. British colleges originally received grants in order to conduct research that would help the whole of the EU, but now these will be cut. Students in UK colleges would no longer get as many opportunities to participate in collaborative international research projects.
UK students will also need to apply for work permits and residence visas if they want to go to other EU countries which do provide these benefits, both of which never had to be done before and make it much harder to live, work, or study in the EU. If the UK was in the EU they would have an automatic right to live and work anywhere in Europe, but now there will have to be a long procedure and application which may well be rejected. You would need to work for an established company that could prove your skills are unavailable domestically.
Working part-time while in college, something most students do, especially if they can’t get EU rates and scholarships, would be basically impossible. Even if UK students chose to go to another European country and pay international rates, they would still have a hard time supporting themselves.
This goes both ways, as EU citizens coming to the UK would also face the same difficulties. This would lead to a decline of EU citizens attending UK colleges, due to the increased living, working, and financial aspects, as well as the decrease in research grants. UK colleges, faced with a decline in students and research money could start to charge more for domestic students or even shut down, either of which would have an extremely negative effect on British students and education in general.
Another downside to fewer EU students coming to the UK will be the lack of diversity. Diversity on university campuses and high schools is a factor that greatly enriches the environment and the students in it. Losing this will take away from the range of worldviews available to the students.
It is clear that the negatives of Brexit outweigh the positives and as the true weight of Brexit settles in, it will only become clearer. The effects on students will be detrimental as the EU can provide benefits for them that Britain simply can’t.
As students everywhere are starting to realize the consequences, action is being taken. More than 1 million voices from different student organizations are calling for a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal. Those who weren’t allowed to vote but now are, those who still can’t vote but want to, those whose votes were not represented, or even those who want to change their votes; a million of them, all studying in different universities and colleges, are demanding for their voices to be heard. Under the NUS, the National Union of Students, they have been putting pressure on Theresa May, the prime minister, and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, to have a people’s vote on the terms of the Brexit deal.
Students got the worst end of the deal and Brexit as a whole had taken them down the educational ladder. As relations with the EU shattered, so did the futures of every student in the UK.
Edited by Seoyoung Lee