Once again, my generation is low on the list when it comes to the government’s priorities, says our student blogger.
Theresa May gave her keynote speech on Brexit yesterday. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images
Languages student at the University of Cambridge
Wednesday 18 January 2017 15.41 GMT
In her landmark speech on Tuesday, Theresa May set out the UK’s priorities for Brexit – and it’s clear that young people are not among them.
PM’s big speech has brought some clarity over the sort of deal she is seeking for the UK
May revealed that Britain will leave the single market, the customs union and court jurisdiction when it leaves the EU. But the 12-point plan ignored the younger generation and failed to offer any reassurance on the main issues affecting home and international students.
If Brexit did actually mean breakfast, this would be the full English of bad news. Here are five ways the negotiations will affect students and young people:
1. Our horizons will be narrower
The PM’s decision to quit the single market in favour of a trade agreement will affect our ability to live, study and work in Europe. Any of the alternatives, she said, would “mean not leaving the EU at all.”
The announcement will not put many young people at ease. Plans for what happens after Britain leaves – and how many hoops we might have to jump through in order to spend some time in Europe – are still incredibly hazy.
Many students, especially those taking degrees with a year abroad, are right to worry that travelling to EU countries could become more complicated, even for education, and that our ability to work there in the future may be restricted. At worst, our freedom of movement could be taken away altogether.
2. EU students in the UK face an uncertain future
Students voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU last June. Photograph: Luke Macgregor/Reuters
Taking back control over our borders is paramount for the prime minister, yet she hasn’t given much indication of the kind of immigration system she wants for Britain after we leave.
What we do know is that the number of EU students is likely to nosedive as a result of Brexit. University applications from the EU are already down by 9% for the next academic year. We want the brightest people from around the world to continue coming to study and work alongside us in the UK, but hostility towards immigrants and uncertainty over their future status has already been cited as a deterrent.
3. Erasmus is under threat
The promise of a “clean break” from the EU puts increased threat on future students’ chances of a year abroad under the Erasmus scheme – one of the outstanding successes of the European project.
The government has already dodged opportunities to commit to the exchange programme, which has helped more than 200,000 UK students since it started in 1987, and a special arrangement is likely to be low on the negotiating agenda.
We’re yet to see whether universities minister Jo Johnson, who studied in France and Belgium, will intervene.
4. Our universities will take a big financial hit
Vice-chancellors have already warned that the kind of hard Brexit proposed yesterday could cause the “biggest disaster” in higher education for many years. May’s speech gave no indication of protecting or replacing the current EU funding that British universities receive. EU research money generated more than £1.86bn for the UK economy in 2014-15 alone.
5. Our futures look ever more precarious
The prime minister has said that if she doesn’t get what she wants in a “bold and ambitious” trade agreement with the EU, she will “change the basis of Britain’s economic model”. We have no guarantee that the economy won’t suffer, which leaves the younger generation vulnerable.
We’re in a precarious position as it is, burdened by student debt, poor employment prospects and an impenetrable housing market. Anxiety over whether to go to university in the first place, let alone how we’ll get by once we graduate, will only become a bigger issue.
And whatever promises Donald Trump makes about British prospects post-Brexit, students remain at the back of the queue.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!