Blog: Scion Mastery exclusive, part one: “Brexit – a bombshell, but business as usual” – The Parliamentary Review

In a series of interviews with The Parliamentary Review, educational consultancy Scion Mastery have discussed what they think are the biggest concerns facing the higher education sector. According to Director Inga Neaves, there is a “triple threat” of “Brexit, tightening budgets and unchecked expansion”, which she will cover in three separate pieces over the coming days.

A triple threat of Brexit, tightening budgets and unchecked expansion has seen the rankings of UK universities in an international league table slump for the fourth year in a row.

We at Scion Mastery are a firm believer in the highest quality of UK education and are unsure as to why people born and raised here would allow or participate in a controlled democratic demolition of their own country.

We would like to bring attention to each of the mentioned threats which have supposedly contributed to the UK universities international league table slump. This article will focus on Brexit.

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The phrase “quality of education”, unhelpfully, is an ambiguous one. The most popular way of demystifying this is likely to be the level or grades awarded for the subjects the student has studied together with the quality of the set the student finds him or herself in.

Parents worldwide are searching for a stable and exhaustive educative process of which their children will progress through the ranks. One that will be unrivalled by those of their native countries. In the last 24 months, we have witnessed a spike in students applying from a number of developing countries, eager to embrace an acclaimed academic experience which enables the student to garner an internationally recognised education. In view of Cambridge and Oxford’s illustrious superiority in academia and unanimous attraction for employers, do other worldwide institutions arouse your attention as ardently?

The UK education system uses grading according to National Standards and other grades according to Public Schools Standards. It represents many academically desirable traits comprising of a clear grading criterion, a reliable and comprehensible academic structure, an adept teaching methodology and a minimum number of subjects and syllabuses that every modern citizen of this country should have access to.

A broad-brush condemnation of Britain’s influence post-Brexit which lumps in a potential drop in demand from international students to study in the UK is a lazy one, and the numbers don’t reflect the assertion. Ben Sowter, director of research at QS, himself appeared unable to draw a parallel between Brexit and the fall. Au contraire, the number of admissions has escalated.

It is also key to recognise that UK universities were ranked as among the world’s best before they formed part of the EU.

At Scion Mastery, we advocate for an international, open minded and liberal student’s society which will supply each and every student with the opportunity to experience what many would consider to be a once in a lifetime, and. our professional project has not been disrupted by the Brussels divorce. Rather, it could potentially be a tactic used to weaponize blame against those who voted for it. The silence of statistical evidence on this point is deafening.

Scion Mastery are constantly seeking ways to evolve and revolutionise and as we speak, many countries are experiencing change, pining for an education that would prepare its future citizens to help their native nations achieve better standards of living. Brexit, contrary to what some are saying, will not be the reason that students from abroad are unable to move to the UK to pursue higher education.

Brexit affected European students minimally and also had a small impact on foreign students who didn’t share the same term as Europeans (i.e. financial or immigration status advantages) The system together with its clarity and grading was not affected by Brexit. That is the consensus from Scion Mastery. Whether we elected to remain or leave, it would’ve rolled on unperturbed. Shouldn’t the more overt political and socio-economic shortcomings be higher up in the hierarchy of what needs to be addressed post-Brexit?

Its structure aptly draws parallels with a little black dress: classy, reliable and aesthetically pleasing. However, a trendy, colourful and amusing dress is seasonal and takes years to become classy, if ever. We should cherish what we have. And at Scion Mastery, we have staked our claim.

Blog: Ball in UK’s court if they want Brexit deal – Hogan – RTE.ie

Ireland’s EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan has said there is real ambition on the EU side to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK, but that same ambition is not there on the UK side.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor programme with Damien O’Reilly, Mr Hogan said for the last few months the EU has been trying to extrapolate movement on various issues from the UK to reach an agreement, but very little has happened.

He said he still believes there will be a deal, and that if the UK wants one, there is one to be done.

He said there is frustration on the EU side about the fact that the good faith required on both sides is not happening.

“I still believe there will be a deal. The ambition of that deal on the European Union side is real. I don’t see the same ambition at the moment on the UK’s side so, the ball is in the UK’s court, if they want a deal, there is a deal to be done.”

Mr Hogan said EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will go to London next week expecting to see movement from the UK as to how to overcome the barriers in talks, namely on level playing field, fisheries and the EU court of justice.  

He said all outstanding issues need to be resolved and if we do not resolve them then we will not have a deal.

Mr Hogan added that we need to see movement on the UK side before it is too late.

Asked if there was a lack of respect or progress coming from the top levels in Downing Street towards the talks, Mr Hogan said some people in Downing Street will be happy with a no-deal Brexit, but he does not believe Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one of them.

He said Mr Johnson has put down three red lines – one on the European court of justice, one on full convergence on rules of engagement on trade, and on fisheries.

Mr Hogan said at the end of the day the EU is operating with the UK negotiating team in good faith.


Draft deal agreed for movement of Irish food products through UK
Brexit: The return of the UK land bridge dilemma

Blog: The‌ ‌Myth‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Affluent‌ ‌International:‌ ‌the‌ ‌impact‌ ‌of‌ ‌Brexit‌ ‌on‌ ‌EU‌ ‌Students‌ ‌ ‌ – Cherwell Online

While voting for Brexit was never motivated by consideration for those not from the UK, universities are arguably a different playing field. On the 23rd of June, the Conservative government finally ended the ambiguous position in which many EU agreements were left in a state of suspension, and made a statement confirming what we all suspected: as of 2021, newly enrolling students from the European Union/European Economic Area will be subject to international status. This means they will no longer have access to home fees, to a loan from the Student Loans Company (SLC), or to a bursary from the university. This measure will have damaging effects for a myriad of actors, including EU students, universities, and, to a lesser extent, the UK as a whole. 

According to the University of Oxford, 43% of its entire student body is international. This might be surprising for many whose image of Oxford is an extremely Anglocentric one, whose experience of it is populated by mostly white and often London-based students. However, this impression isn’t fully inaccurate- the aforementioned number is inflated by the (often more reclusive) graduate students; only 20% of undergraduates are from outside of the UK- and half of those are from the EU.

The myth of the wealthy international student in the UK is a prevalent and pervasive one. Without a British accent, you are immediately presumed to be extremely wealthy- able to finance a decadent life abroad. This stems from the fact that being an international student is quite costly- often prohibitively so. If you do the math, tuition at the University of Oxford for undergraduate students outside of the UK and the EU/EEA ranges from £25,740 to £36,065. Then, there are the costs that are not commonly considered, such as air travel, or purchasing items which home students could easily bring from home (like pillows, a kettle, etc). Furthermore, these cannot be alleviated through any form of financial support from the government or the university.

However, people often fail to consider a subset of international students who might not fit this description of the affluent international: those from the EU/EEA. These are students who, albeit privileged, are often not more so than the average UK student. They might not be able to study in the UK with ease. This is especially the case in the wake of the Euro Debt Crisis of 2009, which had a debilitating economic impact on countries such as Greece, Portugal, and Spain, and which is still being felt potently today. The impending economic consequences of COVID-19 might be just as destructive. 

With Brexit, EU students lose any financial aid. It makes sense that without the economic alliance which bound the UK to other European countries, it would be “morally and legally difficult” to continue giving EU students preferential treatment, as Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, argued. However, Hillman has also predicted that these measures “could risk a decline of about 60% in the number of EU students coming to the UK to study”. He qualifies this by stating that “history suggests that the education on offer in our universities is something people are willing to pay for”, but he fails to see that after a certain point, it is not a matter of whether you are willing, but rather whether you are able. As much as we might try, we cannot will an additional £20,000 into our possession. 

Here, there is a clash of priorities. As an educational institution, Oxford (as well as other UK universities) has both a primary responsibility to UK citizens, as well as the role of educating, cultivating, and providing opportunities to the bright minds of the world, in the hopes that this will make them capable of one day making an impact. The former priority is often reinforced by the argument that UK taxpayers should not be expected to support non-UK students. However, this does not hold up well when one invokes the counterargument that many of these students stay on in the UK; in 2011, 54,045 students switched from a study visa to another visa (such as a work visa) to be able to remain in the country. It is undeniable that the UK is a beneficiary of the brain drain that plagues many other countries today. While Oxford disseminates placating claims such as that “our staff and students from all across the world are as warmly welcome as ever”, we have yet to get a clear statement or policy which addresses how they intend to continue supporting these students. It is not enough to merely “welcome them” if they cannot arrive here in the first place. On the latter priority, a less diverse university environment can only harm these institutions in their role as authorities of knowledge and its development. Ultimately, Oxford has never had any qualms about claiming credit for the achievements of their foreign notable alumni, be it political leaders such as Benazir Bhutto, writers like Vikram Seth, and more recently, Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. 

For many, being able to study abroad is a lifeline. Students are given opportunities they would not have had in their home countries: the ability to study their subject with a near unlimited access to books and resources, better links to employers (in Greece, youth unemployment stands at 35.6%), and much more. Many use this knowledge and bring it back to their own countries, and thus can improve and contribute to society back home. Since these announcements, I have witnessed several parents distraught over their children’s future prospects- even parents with children only 14 years old. For many, the function of an overseas tertiary education cannot be overstated. Many of us might be considered “traitors” for this; I was recently informed by a fellow compatriot in the Facebook comment section of a Guardian article that I am “the worst type of Greek”. It is true that many still have access to an education in other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Italy, or France, however these offer considerably fewer English-speaking courses, and the language barrier is definitely an important consideration, even just in daily life. Furthermore, with English being such a widely spoken language, so many people have learned it explicitly because it would allow us to escape the confines of our own countries. 

The system is already imbalanced. It is impossible to justify why EU students should get benefits over other overseas ones, or why the privileged EU students should get more opportunities, or – even on a domestic level – why students from prestigious private schools should get in at higher rates than those from underfunded state schools. However, this measure merely serves to decrease the net level of accessibility for students, which seems unwise and counterproductive in approaching this inequality. Universities should embrace an ethos of openness, and institute measures which will continue to ensure that students from around the world can still afford to come and study.

Hopefully, this inevitable period of change will provide the necessary impetus for furthering these reforms: increasing the number and value of scholarships on offer for international students, or maintaining their commitment to offering financial aid to such students, potentially taking this chance to extend it to those outside the EU too. The vote for Brexit already has an alienating impact on foreigners in the UK, revealing deep-seated antipathies for that which is ‘other’. So, if Oxford (among others), is as committed as they claim to “remain a thriving, cosmopolitan community of scholars and students”, they should put their money where their mouth is.