Universities expected to take on more international students amid Brexit funding fears

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Credit: George Hodan

Hamish Morrison
News Editor

British universities are expected to take on more international students, due to fears of a decrease in funding for higher education in the UK after Brexit.

Vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow and chair of the Russell Group, Sir Anton Muscatelli, speaking to The Sunday Times, said: “Many universities will try to do this [increasing numbers of foreign students] because it will be the only way to respond to a sudden fall in income.”

Muscatelli is also said to be considering increasing the number of foreign students at Glasgow University to up to half of the total student body, in the event of a collapse in higher-education funding following Brexit.

International students at Glasgow University currently make up 18% of the total student body, with EU students accounting for 11%.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, the heads of Russell Group universities warned of a “triple whammy” to university funding after Brexit. British universities can be expected to be hit by a fall in EU student numbers and to be cut off from the EU’s pot of higher education funding, which totals £1.3bn. Additionally, a government report, to be published soon, is expected to recommend capping fees at £6,500 per year.

In the event of being cut off from the European higher education funding pot and suffering a fall in the number of EU students coming to the UK, increasing foreign student numbers is “the only thing a university could do that would make them money”, according to Nick Hillman, of the Higher Education Policy Institute think tank.

Non-EU foreign students are an increasingly lucrative resource for British universities, many of which are borrowing heavily to fund campus expansion projects. At Glasgow University, international undergraduate students pay fees as high as £45,170 per year, for the MB ChB programme. Postgraduate international students can expect to pay in excess of £20,000 for 12 months masters courses in dentistry and medicine.