What the EU means for students
The European Union: what's in it for 'EU'? Ignoring the terrible pun, the EU itself is something you really can't ignore. On June 23rd, all British people will have the chance to vote for our own fate – whether or not we will be remaining a part of the European Union. Currently, we have been a member for many years, since 1973, but we are holding a referendum to see whether or not we will remain.
I know I've got my personal views, but as a blogger for Liberty Living, I've been asked to provide you with both sides of the argument to help you, as students, decide what's for the best at this stage in your lives. In my eyes the answer is clear (especially on this issue), but you'll all have your individual opinions. This piece isn’t here to make all of the arguments; just the ones that directly concern you at this stage in your studies. Remember though - to vote, you have to be registered. You can do this online, and you can also arrange to set up a postal vote. If you want to have your say, it's imperative!
The pros of staying in the EU for students
- At the moment, UK students can benefit from an exchange scheme known as Erasmus. If we weren’t in the EU, it’s unclear whether or not we could remain, as most of the members are part of the European Union. Loads of students would miss out on this amazing opportunity.
- Universities are cheaper elsewhere in the EU. At the moment, some of these provide a viable alternative for those who don’t want to pay £9000. This is only allowed because of our EU status.
- EU students are very prominent in UK universities, with over 100,000 of them studying here at any one time. If we left the EU; it might be a challenge for them to be able to afford it, meaning the economy would lose all of the benefits of having them here. Universities would also lose out financially!
- You might not be able to meet such a diverse range of friends! You’re exposed to so many cultures right now, it would be a shame to become more insular, something that the UK is often accused of.
- Education quality might suffer. Lecturers come from all over the world, but if we left the EU, it might make it more difficult for lecturers within Europe teach in the UK. At the moment, at least 14% are from other countries in the Union. Some of the best ones might decide to go elsewhere, leaving British students to suffer.
- Universities UK (the representative body of all universities) are backing staying in. Remaining in the EU makes the UK’s universities “stronger” and contributes to “economic growth, employable graduates and cutting edge research discoveries” argued their spokesperson.
- UK Universities are given £1.2 billion in research grants every single year by the EU. In perspective, the UK has 3.3% of the world’s scientific researchers who actually produce around 7% of global scientific output. A ‘Brexit’ – British exit – could cost us not only fiscally, but it might change the future of science and therefore our world.
- Our economy is simply better off thanks to EU students. They bring in literally billions, and create jobs.
The cons of staying in the EU for students
- If we stay in the EU, there are some arguments that UK students will miss out on places. This is because if an EU student is currently stronger than a home student, the place goes to them, to keep standards high. If we stay in the EU, that could mean more UK students being left disappointed. The demand for places means that UK students would make up for any losses in EU students.
- The EU has a say on laws which affect Britain. Some of these may relate to students in future, and it might be that British students might not like whatever the outcome of such laws may be.
Look, overall, it's clear that as a student, your interests are best protected if we stay in the EU. However, as we've seen, there are valid points on both sides. Plus, it's likely that everyone has some opinions based completely outside of their status as a student or not, for example considering the economy and so on.
If you want to read a more comprehensive argument from either side, you can research to see balanced arguments from the 'stay' side, and also from the 'leave' side. It is entirely your choice, but it's best to go in knowing as much as you can, both to protect yourself, and your fellow country folk.