According to UCAS admissions figures, there has been a 7% drop in the number of EU students applying to UK universities, and a 23% drop in UK students applying for nursing.
Applications from UK students applying to universities have declined by a total of 5%, with the biggest decline in numbers among nursing applicants. Janet Davies, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, blamed this on the switch from grants to fees and loans, claiming that “the nursing workforce is in crisis”.
The drop in numbers is the first in almost a decade, and follows fears from leading academic institutions that the Brexit vote would have a harmful effect on UK Universities.
John Latham, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, said in an Education Select Committee public hearing that a departure from the EU would make British universities “extremely uncompetitive”.
The board was also told that postgraduates were discouraged from entering the UK due to the increase in hostility towards immigrants, the devaluation of the pound and a growing uncertainty over research projects.
Vice-Chancellors speaking at the University of Cambridge predicted that the decline in EU students could cost the UK economy more than £690m per year, as much of funding for university research comes from the EU. The institution warned of “serious repercussions” for Britain’s global status, particularly if European Economic Area academics and researchers were denied free movement within the EU and were required to apply for visas.
The Russell Group has also urged the Government to reassure the academic community by providing a statement of intent that they will prioritise higher education and research in upcoming negotiations.