The prolonged agony of Brexit deadlines has been extended yet again until 31st October 2019. Whilst British MPs continue to debate a withdrawal agreement, the Europeans shake their heads incredulously at Westminster shenanigans. Fortunately, however, uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit talks is not deterring students looking to the UK for secondary and tertiary education.
According to figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) which manages almost 3 million applications for full-time undergraduate courses in the UK, there has been an overall 1.4% increase in application rates for 2019 – the first increase in three years. Moreover, there has been a 9% increase in international students applying for UK universities. Clearly the prestige of a UK university degree, as well as the popularity of an English-medium certification is continuing to appeal, despite question marks over the eventual terms of Brexit.
Nevertheless, the prospect of no deal or a deal imposing restrictions on UK students’ access to European grants, exchange programmes, the ERASMUS programme and travel may result in a UK university degree seem less appealing. The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has also indicated that one of her Brexit priorities will be to curb immigration, possibly leading to a less welcoming Britain for foreigners.
In the British boarding schools, though, pupils from outside the UK are still welcomed with open arms. All schools value the diversity of having international families as part of their community, and recognise it adds a richness and cosmopolitan facet to their student body. Updates about Brexit have been sent to current parents and steps put in place to ensure overseas students are supported for smooth border entry procedures. For example, students were given letters of school attendance at the end of last term to carry on them while travelling.
British boarding schools bring to mind historic buildings with a mix of modern classrooms and traditional architecture, world-class teaching and excellent pastoral care. These images may have be somewhat cliché, but the British model undoubtedly offers a combination of academic rigour, trusted qualifications, extra-curricular pursuits to a high standard and a global outlook. Students come from both the UK and countries across the world, creating a unique cultural melting pot. All UK schools have to meet strict government standards on their quality of teaching, facilities and student care, thus providing an exceptional educational experience.
Summer schools in the UK are thriving and offer short term boarding experiences with stimulating academic and cultural programmes. Most have English language tuition for international students but are always supplemented by classes and activities in other areas – from sport and outdoor pursuits to computing, drama and art. Some courses have been operating for over 40 years, such as GISS who welcomes boys and girls from over 35 nationalities between the age 8-16 to enjoy a fabulous Scottish summer of learning, outdoor adventure and friendship.
The big question remains whether a UK outside the European Union will have an impact on the excellence of the UK’s education system. International students are attracted to Britain’s world-class education organisations that foster original progressive thinking and encourage intellectual curiosity and creativity. With all likelihood, the UK government will continue to invest in its education sector and the schools and universities themselves will look to attract the very best students from every country – so Keep Calm and Carry On!