THE BLOG

Why Should We Stay in the EU for Our Education?

05/04/2016 12:43 | Updated 05 April 2016

There are many differing arguments for remaining in the EU or leaving it, but here's why I firmly believe we should stay in the EU for the benefit of our education.

Exchange Programmes
Many university courses offer the opportunity for students to spend a year or a semester abroad, most commonly in a country that is part of the EU. Specifically the EU set up the Erasmus programme which allows universities to be a partner institution. This allows UK students to be spend time in another institution in return for hosting EU students to study in the UK. Around 14,500 UK students every year take part in this funded scheme. It's a fantastic opportunity for so many to spend time abroad, get involved in another culture, practice their language skills and have an incredible experience they wouldn't have had otherwise. Yes, it is possible to do a semester/year abroad without being in the EU, in fact it does happen already. BUT, this comes with little funding so much of the cost is left to the student to pay. The opportunities that the university provides shouldn't be limited to just those who can afford to fork out to spend time across the world; everyone should have the opportunity to get these amazing experiences.

Research and Teaching
Many of the research grants that allow for cutting edge, ground-breaking research to happen in the UK comes from the EU. The UK funding opportunities are limited and from speaking to lecturers at my university, the EU is much more likely to fund something a little bit more unknown with the potential of discovering something brand new. Arguably, we don't need research to be done in this country to be able to learn about it - we live in the modern world where communication is nigh on instant. The research grants, however, give us so much more than a few people in a room trying to find the next big thing.

With more grants for the 'new' more 'exciting' pieces of research, our universities attract more people from across the world. If we want to look at the financial gain, yes that means more coming into the country and a bit of a boost to the economy. But, it's so much more than that. With ground-breaking research in our country, more people come, it means that we can educate and inspire the next generation of researchers.

The Russell Group universities attract people based on the research happening at them, these grants mean there are great facilities available for students to use. Not only this, but it gives our students the PhD opportunities that they would otherwise go abroad for. We will lose some of our best academics, researchers and professionals if, as a nation, we don't have enough to attract them to stay here. Being out of the EU means that opportunities will be more restricted as many EU institutions will look for a home or EU student - the same as here - so opportunities in or out the country will be reduced for those in the UK.

Talking about more than just Russell Group universities, the quality of our education at all universities is likely to drop because we have many leading experts in a diverse range of subject areas who lecture in the UK, but are from an EU country originally. One of the great benefits of coming to university is to interact with people; the benefit of debating, discussing and learning from those who are experts in their field.

All in all, this is where I believe the biggest impact will be on education and student experience: the opportunities and experiences of our students (current and future) will be severely disadvantaged if we choose to leave the EU.

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