22 SES 07 C, Paper Session
This study looked at the implications of Brexit on the recruitment of international faculty, students, and the ability to obtain research funding. Higher education stakeholders have legitimate concerns regarding the impact of the UK’s separation from the EU. Students are transferring to institutions outside the UK and EU to universities that are welcoming and accommodating the special needs and circumstances of international scholars. Researchers are prematurely dissolving collaborative partnerships with colleagues to mitigate complications and lost funding expected, as a result of Brexit. There are universities exploring possible locations for new satellite campuses in other countries. Through the development of policies and treaties such as the Bologna Process, Lisbon Strategy, European Higher Education in the World initiative, the European Union has demonstrated the importance and purpose of higher education both in Europe and at the international level.
The overarching question posed here is: What are the implications of Brexit on the recruitment of international faculty, students, and the ability to obtain research funding?
To accommodate the estimated increase of international students enrolled in higher education worldwide to 7.2 million by 2025, institutions are enhancing their international partnerships and educational approach (Knight, 2012; Rumbley, Altbach, & Reisberg, 2012; Heyl & Tullbane, 2012). Institutions of higher education in the United States (US) have demonstrated their desire to increase access to postsecondary education by collaborating with foreign institutions in an effort to enhance curriculum and attract more students from around the world (Heyl & Tullbane, 2012; Redden, 2017). Similarly, the EU has enacted new policies such as the European Higher Education in the World initiative, the Bologna Process, and the Lisbon Strategy with the goal of providing access to higher education and professional training to individuals around the world without requiring them to move or incur large debts (Heyl & Tullbane, 2012).
The full impact of the decision for the UK to withdraw from the EU appears to be unknown. As the withdrawal from the EU progresses, the UK government needs to work to strengthen its relationships and partnerships with institutions and organizations within the EU in order to continue attracting researchers and students (Stokstad, 2016). To ensure funding remains available for research, Stokstad (2016) stated that the UK needs to replace lost funding or buy-in to the research grant programs offered through the EU, ensuring funding remains available to researchers.
The future of the UK and the EU (particularly for universities, colleges, faculty, students, and researchers impacted by unforeseen changes) is hanging in the balance of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Higher education is a major global export, contributing £73 billion annually to the British economy and approximately 2.8% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Kinstler, 2016). Furthermore, international students spend £4.9 billion off-campus in addition to £4.4 billion in tuition and fees, accounting for 20% of university revenue (Kinstler, 2016).
Utilizing narrative qualitative inquiry, interviews were conducted with faculty members and administration at institutions of higher education within the United Kingdom and the European Union. Semi-structured interviews were conducted gain a deeper understanding of the implications of Brexit on the recruitment of international faculty, students, and the ability to obtain research funding. An interview protocol was developed, aligning with the research question and the theoretical perspective guiding the study. Data collection consisted of a demographics survey, field notes, and individual interviews. Researchers personally transcribed the interviews and deidentified the transcripts to protect the identity of the participants. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. A second member of the research team then reviewed the transcripts for accuracy. Member checking was conducted by sending a copy of the full transcript to each participant and asking them to review the transcript for accuracy. The data analysis phase consisted of a three-step approach to coding the qualitative data. The a priori codes determined at the start of the study may be revised, modified, deleted, or expanded to include new codes, once the data are collected, coded, and analyzed (Saldaña, 2016). First, one researcher coded the transcripts using the provisional coding method outlined by Saldaña (2016). Upon completion of the initial coding, the researcher met with the peer debriefers to discuss the data as it related to the a priori codes. Next, the researcher re-coded the data, based on the discussions with peer debriefers. Then researcher and peer debriefers deliberated on the coding material to determine if noted quotes accurately portrayed the definition of each code. The accuracy of evidence for each theme was determined by a consensus among the research and peer debriefers. Following the deliberation, the researcher conducted one final analysis of the data using the a priori codes.
Higher education stakeholders have legitimate concerns regarding the impact of the UK’s separation from the EU. Academics feel the decisions made by the government do not reflect their wishes, and are already showing signs of detrimental consequences to higher education and its stakeholders. Higher education contributes approximately 10% of the UK’s export of services, 28% of the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 2.7% of the country’s employment (Mayhew, 2017). Many students, faculty, and researchers are clinging to a “wait and see” attitude towards the potential fallout of Brexit, while others are taking proactive approaches by planning for worst-case scenarios. Students concerned with the limitations Brexit may have on their educational mobility and academic funding are waiting for additional unexpected changes that hinge on Brexit’s outcome. Universities are “advocating for uninterrupted funding streams, open visa regimes for researchers and students, and continued mobility via programs like Erasmus, which allow European students to study abroad in any other member state, free of cost” (Kinstler, 2016). There is a glimmer of hope for the victims of Brexit; Australia, Germany, Ireland, and Scotland are among some of the countries aggressively vying for “Brexit refugees” (Kinstler, 2016). With access to higher education increasing around the world, it is imperative that institutions of higher education review their current practices and work to enhance the services provided. The European Union has moved to ensure higher education within the European Higher Education Area meets the changing demands placed on higher education in order to continue producing valuable research and attracting more students. Through the development of policies and treaties such as the Bologna Process, Lisbon Strategy, European Higher Education in the World initiative, the European Union has demonstrated the importance and purpose of higher education both in Europe and at the international level.
European Union – Foreign Relations. (2016). Brexit’s impact on higher education and research. Education Journal, 286, 17. Heyl, J. D., & Tullbane, J. (2012). Leadership in international higher education. In D. K. Deardorff, H. de Wit, J. D. Heyl, & T. Adams (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of international higher education (pp 113-130). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. Kinstler, L. (2016). Brexit is jeopardizing Britain’s intellectual legacy, The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/ImpactofBrexitonFurtherEducation.aspx Knight, J. (2012). Concepts, rationales, and interpretive frameworks in the internationalization of higher education. In D. K. Deardorff, H. de Wit, J. D. Heyl, & T. Adams (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of international higher education (pp 27-42). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. Mayhew, K. (2017). UK higher education and Brexit, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 33(S1), S155-S161. Redden, E. (2017, June 14). Survey of more than 1,100 U.S. colleges looks at state of internationalization efforts. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/06/14/survey-more-1100-us-colleges-looks-state-internationalization-efforts?width=775&height=500&iframe=true Rumbley, L. E., Altbach, P. G., & Reisberg, L. (2012). Internationalization within the higher education context. In D. K. Deardorff, H. de Wit, J. D. Heyl, & T. Adams (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of international higher education (pp 3-26). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. Stokstad, E. (2016). Uncertainty reigns in Brexit Britain. Science, 353(6298), 437. doi: 10.1126/science.353.6298.437
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