Universities face uncertainty as Brexit looms

With Brexit, the European landscape is seeing constant changes. Companies and students are shifting their focus. This has reverberated in the UK Higher Education landscape, with total enrolment that down 7% for the 2018/2019 academic year.
LONDON - Feb. 21, 2019 - PRLog -- With Brexit, the European landscape is seeing constant changes. Companies and students are shifting their focus. This has reverberated in the UK Higher Education landscape, with total enrollment that down 7% for the 2018/2019 academic year. In light of the geopolitical conditions and shifting demand of UK higher education, how big of a risk does Brexit represent for international mobility and student living as a whole?

Drivers for the uncertainty

After holding steady as the #2 provider of higher education globally, UK Higher Education is now undergrowing pressure. Lewis Purser - director of academic affairs at the Irish Universities Association – suggests the fall is a result of concerns arising from the implications of the UK leaving the European Union and the potential knock-on effect on higher education. Another worrying aspect in the EU is the Erasmus+ programme, which provides 4 million Europeans with the chance to study and train abroad (Switzerland is currently disallowed from participation in the programme due to its restrictive policies on the free movement of people). A hard Brexit would place the UK in a similar position. Arnaud Puy, VP at Wifirst comments: "A no-deal scenario would be catastrophic in the short term, as the immigration status of students, practitioners and academics would change suddenly." As of January 2018, there were almost 147,000 EU students studying a higher education qualification in the UK, contributing £5.1 billion to the UK economy and supporting 20,000 jobs. Brexit would create a negative impact on the number of EU students, yet UK institutions are becoming more competitive for Asian students due to drop in value of the pound. China maintains its lead as the largest source country of non-EU students applicants, with 15,880 applications, up from 11,920 in 2018 and followed by Hong Kong at 5,100. India with 4,690 applications, the US with 4,050 and Singapore with 3,060 complete the top five non-EU countries list of student applications for the UK this year.

Impact on PBSA

In 2017/2018, 2,343,095 students were admitted into UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with in total approximately 627,000 purpose-built bed spaces for the 2018/2019 academic year. Jorick Beijer Director of The Class of 2020 comments: "The rise of English Taught Programmes catered a strong increase in HE participation across the continent. Reasonable cost of attendance and the outlook of UK institutions opening branch campuses will drive demand for PBSA across bigger and smaller European university-cities."Even though PBSA keeps on growing in the UK, institutions, developers, providers and operators are increasingly looking at other markets to develop. Paul Totsevin from Savills states that "The maturity of the UK and US student housing markets, coupled with low provision yet high demand for PBSA, mean that southern European cities offer the strongest opportunities for the investment in the sector over the coming year. In Italy for example Europe's fourth largest student market, the national provision rate is less than 5%."


When the UK withdraws from the European Union in March 2019, even the experts aren't quite sure what it will mean for Higher Education. Yet the consequences might be severe and far-reaching possibly opening new market and housing models. Maurits van Rooijen from Global University Systemsunderlines "We can expect the relationship between learning, working and living to change significantly in the decades to come. The good news is that in rapidly developing knowledge economies, education will take centre stage more and more. I expect that traditional student room provision over time will be less essential yet there is an opportunity to take a central role in creating - and transforming traditional campuses into -dynamic learning and living communities."

The Class of 2020 is organizing a Pan European Session gathering experts to meet and discuss the next undertakings in this industry. Speakers include representatives from Bartlett Real Estate Institute (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/real-estate/), UCAS (https://www.ucas.com/), Nido Students (https://www.nidostudent.com/), Global University Systems (https://www.globaluniversitysystems.com/), Corestate (https://corestate-capital.com/), Invesco (https://www.invesco.com/corporate), The Student Hotel, Basecamp (https://basecampstudent.com/), International Campus (https://www.ic-campus.com/), Savills (https://www.savills.com/), Harrison Street (https://www.harrisonst.com/), W.P. Carey (http://www.wpcarey.com/)and more. The panel discussions provide a stage for leading European investors, operators and Higher Education experts to discuss best practices and the way forward.

About the event: https://theclassof2020.org/events-2019/ukregional2019/

The Class of 2020 - Manon Randin
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