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Brexit boosts student choice

Students protesting about fees, 2014. Photo Workers.

The vote to leave the European Union is being blamed for all sorts of ills, but it’s now becoming clear that in higher education the mere fact of the vote will benefit thousands of young British people looking for a place at the university of their choice.

Thousands of extra places are being offered through clearing by self-styled “top” universities, including in the Russell Group, because they are no longer sure of being able to fill them with students from the European Union.

Clearing places

In the topsy-turvy world of university finance (see No excuses: university pay matters) uncertainty means that hard-to-get-into universities such as Leeds are having to work to acquire students. Leeds on its own has 1,000 degree course combinations in clearing.

“People are nervous and universities are being defensive; if EU students do not turn up, universities want to make sure they fill their places,” said University of Exeter vice-chancellor Sir Steve Smith. “There is a lot of uncertainty post-Brexit. Students will have a lot of choice this summer.”


Meanwhile, other universities are offering a range of incentives. These vary from the free season tickets for Leicester City (from De Montfort University) to “bogof” offers at Sheffield Hallam, where applicants with three As at A-level will be able to do a follow-on Master’s course for free.

Meanwhile, newspaper reports suggest that some universities have had their credit ratings downgraded over worries about how many international students they will be able to attract.