Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

UAE students heading to Britain worry about Brexit impact and xenophobia

Pupils are unsure if they will be able to participate in European student exchange programmes like Erasmus

Ebani Dhawan receives her A-Level results, with the prinicipal Simon O’Connor, at Jumeirah College. Reem Mohammed / The National
Ebani Dhawan receives her A-Level results, with the prinicipal Simon O’Connor, at Jumeirah College. Reem Mohammed / The National

Students heading to the UK for tertiary-level education are concerned their British degrees will not hold the same value after Brexit.

Many UAE-based teenagers, who received their A-level results on Thursday, said they were anxious about job prospects after completing their studies because of the issue.

Others are worried about their eligibility to participate in exchange programmes in the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc on October 31. “Going to university is fine but getting a job after that is a concern,” said Charlie Thomas, 18, a British pupil in Dubai, who begin studying economics and politics at the University of Exeter this September.

“I am worried because many UK universities get funding from the European Union. If they do not have these links, the British universities will go down the rankings in the future,” said Mr Thomas, who plans to move back to the UAE or go to Canada after his studies. Some said they were concerned about reports of rising xenophobia in the UK. Ebani Dhawan, an Indian pupil, 18, at Jumeirah College, will start her psychology degree at University College London in September.

“The main thing I am worried about is the rise in xenophobia and how I will be treated as an international student.

Ebani Dhawan, an Indian pupil, 18, at Jumeirah College, will start her psychology degree at University College London in September. “The main thing I am worried about is the rise in xenophobia and how I will be treated as an international student,” she said.

She is also worried about her ability to participate in the EU’s Erasmus exchange programme – a initiative which allows students to study at European universities.

“I want to go to France and I hope Brexit does not affect the UK’s relations with the major EU countries,” she said.

Pupils across the UAE received their A-level results on Thursday with some saying they were the toughest exams in years.

There were tears of joy across the country as the results streamed through.

Education chiefs in the UAE say it is hard to quantify the impact of Brexit as so many questions remain unanswered.

“Brexit is having an impact but because we do not know the reality of it, it is not clear what is going on,” said Simon O’Connor, the principal of Jumeirah College in Dubai.

He said that about 65 per cent of pupils at the school pursue higher studies in the UK but many, including British teenagers, were also opting for universities in mainland Europe. “This is because European universities are opening up, teaching in English and also cost less than the UK universities,” Mr O’Connor said.

British people also say the situation is less than ideal.

Danielle Holt, a pupil at Jumeirah College planning to study at the University of Exeter, said it was important to take these concerns seriously.

“Brexit is a mess right now – younger people who will be massively affected by it need to be considered,” said Danielle, 17. “Especially EU students, who might not be able to get the same status or travel to the UK as easily as before.”

Abdul Rahim Khater, 18, receives his A-Level results at Jumeirah College. Reem Mohammed / The National 
Abdul Rahim Khater, 18, receives his A-Level results at Jumeirah College. Reem Mohammed / The National 

But it is not all bad news. Many students say they’ve been able to save on costly tuition fees because of the slump in the British pound.

Abdul Rahim Khater, 18, a Palestinian-Canadian pupil in Dubai, chose to study medicine in the UK regardless of Brexit.

“The plunge in the value of the pound means I can save on tuition,” he said.

Alejandro Kramer, a Spanish pupil at Jumeirah College, hopes to study history and politics at the University of Edinburgh.

“The political climate will not affect the validity of my degree,” said Mr Kramer, 18. “I will be studying in Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU and there are many European students in Scotland, so I am hoping the British government can come to a compromise.”

Updated: August 18, 2019 08:30 AM

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