Brexit Affects International Students

(L to R) Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, and Theresa May loom over Chambers. Illustration by Richard Farrell ‘22

Betsy Sugar ‘21

Staff writer

On March 23, 2019, the United Kingdom will officially leave the EU, with December 31, 2020, as the goal for the last day of transition. Two years have passed since the UK first voted in a referendum to leave. The future of Brexit remains uncertain after failure to negotiate a deal at the supposed final decision deadline at an EU summit last month.

At the October, 2018 EU summit, Theresa May proposed her plan for the UK’s departure, also known as the Chequer’s Plan. The plan entails a departure from the EU’s single market and customs union, but also includes a “pledge to maintain a common standards rulebook for goods, food, and agriculture, along with other continued regulatory alignments,” according to The Guardian. However, EU leaders, such as French president, Emmanuel Macron, and president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, declared that her plan could not work and was “cherry picking” all the benefits of being in the EU without actually contributing any funds or responsibility.

The plan intends to minimize issues of trade and movement between the UK and the rest of Europe, especially with Ireland and Northern Ireland in mind. The UK wants to ensure that there is a soft border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, meaning no “physical checks or infrastructure” between the two countries, according to the BBC.

Unless the United Kingdom can come up with a new plan soon, it appears as though they may have to end up with a “No Deal Brexit” which would mean no more Article 50 discussions. The Guardian explains that Article 50 mediates the “formal mechanism for exiting the EU […] which among other things must settle citizens’ rights, the question of the Irish border and the UK’s exit bill.” Effectively, if a “No Deal Brexit” does occur, the UK will be left on its own without the formal ties that May wants to keep with the Union.

While everything concerning Brexit may seem distant, it directly affects many Davidson students, especially those whose families still live in the UK. Dr. Timo Lochocki, an expert in European party politics visiting Davidson this semester, explained some of the ramifications for students: “The worst thing is that they don’t know yet how it will affect them.”

What can be expected from British students is the economic downturn in the UK affecting study abroad participation. The UK’s departure from the EU will cause economic shocks that will turn around and hurt Britain to a much greater degree than the remainder of the Union.

British students at Davidson have expressed these exact concerns about their home country in the after-effects of Brexit. “Withdrawing from the stability of the EU will, I think, naturally result in some sort of instability. We can see this even now, with the strength of the pound and how that is affecting the economy at the moment,” expressed Siân Lewis ‘20, one of Davidson’s concerned British students. Fellow British student Leo Artus ‘21 also voiced concerns about “the crash of the pound in currency markets.”

Interestingly, while the pound has been declining in international currency markets, the recent gridlock in Brexit debates actually aided the pound. According to Market Watch, the pound experienced a slight bump in real value due to both the halting of Brexit debates and the Bank of England lowering interest rates.

Even though the past few days have seemed bright for the pound in money markets, as Brexit continues to become realized throughout Europe, the pound will most likely suffer. This could mean that in the future, fewer students from the UK will have the opportunity to attend Davidson if their country goes into a recession, as appears probable.

In an interview with Jonathan Berkey, director of the Dean Rusk International Studies Program, he expressed those fears. “The political ramifications of Brexit could be enormous and have significant impact on all of us. Brexit may have a terrible impact on the British economy, for example, which would affect British students at Davidson.”

At the moment, very little is known about the future of Brexit and which direction it will take concerning the separation debates. Uncertainty for the UK and the EU linger, which means a continued state of unrest for Britain and British students alike.

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