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Time to panic? EU students are not amused by Brexit

Not long ago, the United Kingdom was considered the second most popular study abroad destination for international students after the United States. After triggering Article 50 and voting to leave the European Union, will the United Kingdom need to work hard to maintain its “hotspot” reputation? Out of 2.3 million students who attended UK universities in 2014-15, 19% of them were non-British students. Before the results of the Brexit referendum, a survey by education consultancy Hobson showed that 82% of EU students stated that they would consider the UK far less attractive if it left the EU, and there are several reasons why...
By Danielle Neubauer

So what’s next for non-British citizens?
It is no secret that one of the main motives pushing the “Vote Leave” campaign was the wish to establish strict laws to control immigration and strengthen the British identity as a nation. Globalization has flourished in the past few decades, but some voters made it clear that they want an immigration reform.
According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, there are currently 436,585 international students enrolled in UK institutions and about 125,000 of them are from the EU.    

If you are one of them, you might be feeling like an outsider now, but there are more concrete implications on the matter. If prior to receiving the referendum results, you thought about settling in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow or Edinburgh, you might now be thinking otherwise.

At the moment, nothing is going to happen unless Article 50 is officially invoked by the British government. The rest is left to be determined by the deal that the UK settles with the EU.

How will student visas be impacted?

Hard feelings are only some of the consequences of the referendum results. EU students from Germany, Italy, Spain, France and other countries in Europe, have enjoyed the no-border policy between Britain and other EU countries. They are dreading the bureaucratic complications yet to come. To control their entrance to the UK, they may need to be issued a 4-Tier Visa, just like international students are required. This is a short term visa for students over 16 years of age, who have already been offered a place in a course, can speak English and can afford the tuition and living expenses during the study period. This visa includes restrictions on the amount of time you can stay in the UK before your course starts and after it ends.

The problem with this visa, is that it also has restrictions on the allowed work hours for students. This means that the socioeconomic demographics in British institutions like Oxford University, Cambridge University, University College London, King’s College London and more, is likely to change, consisting mainly of those who have an initial budget to fund their studies.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be more jobs for the British people. Many international companies are predicted to leave the UK, due to the high employment visa prices that they would require to assign their staff from the EU. Vodafone and EasyJet are just two examples of companies thinking about moving their headquarters out of the UK due to the decision.

Will tuition fees go up?  
Two types of standard tuition fees are available in publicly funded universities in the UK. One is called “home student fees”, which is currently the amount of tuition for British students and members of the European Union. The second is the “international student fee”, which is for non-EU members, and is twice as expensive as the home student option (up to £36,000 per year).

Non-British students are afraid that once Britain leaves the EU, they will need to shift to studying on regular international student terms, forced to pay double the amount that they do now.

Students from the European Union know that there are cheaper alternatives inside the Union, which they can enjoy. This may cause the amount of students to drop, along with the institutions’ incomes and the financial contribution that they brought to the British economy. 

Along with other universities, the University College London (UCL) has confirmed in an extremely supportive statement that they have no plans to raise the tuition fees for EU students at the moment. The main problem is, that the duration of this decision will only last until we understand what the implications of Brexit actually are. Additional implications of the “Leaving process” might push institutions to the limit, having no other option, but to raise their tuition.

Will EU funds stop for good?
Throughout the years, the EU has played a huge role in funding higher education institutions and providing student loans. Leaving the EU may also mean that the funding will stop. Once that happens, who will cover the expenses for the institutions and for the students?

Students choose where to study based on one big question: can I afford it? Tuition fees, living expenses and the ability to get a scholarship or a loan is crucial to deciding where to study. Many programs such as The Erasmus Mundus course or partnership and Euraxess, both funded by the European Commission might not be available for international students interested in studying in the UK after it leaves the European Union. There are over 798 subsidies offered by the European Commission for its members in multiple fields of study, research, innovation, technology and more. Will the EU members no longer be able to profit from these grants while in the UK? Did the referendum seal the closing deal for all of these offers? Only time will tell, though it is likely to be the case. 

The implications of Brexit are still not at all very clear, but one thing is certain. Things will probably never be the same for EU residents in the UK, especially for the student community. Although many leaders of higher education are doing everything they possibly can to maintain collaborations in science, technology and innovation, there are mounting concerns that new borders will be placed on some of the greatest minds on earth. 

The best way to start speaking a language while making new friends abroad

So you found your dream apartment, settled in your new home, and are doing everything you can to adjust to your new destination. You know that learning French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, or whichever foreign language is native to your new country, is paramount to integrating and experiencing the true native culture. Although beginner or intermediate language courses can really improve your language skills,  it can't really prepare you for the moment when you will need to say your first sentence, order food, or ask for directions at the train station in your new language. What you really need now is a tandem who will get you speaking- fast.

Writen by Danielle Neubauer 

You may have tried speaking to strangers on the street by joining sentences using the latest words learned your language class, but you’re not really making any sense, and let’s face it, your accent is a clear indication of where you come from. 

Sound familiar?

Well, we have a solution for you. 

You need to find someone who has an incentive to sit in front of you and listen to your blabbering, with some heavenly unexplained interest and super human patience to correct every third word you say...

 That perfect someone is a tandem.

The word “tandem” means to mutually work together as team. A tandem is someone you can meet up with to practice a language of your choice, which also happens to be their mother tongue, and visa-versa.  

Everyone should get one!

(It's also free.)
This is a great way to minimize the cost of your studies abroad and save up the money you would have spent on a tutor. 

The business model is somewhat of a non-profit B2B based on "give and take". No money involved! ...(Or maybe just paying for the coffee you treat yourself to while you two talk.)

Still sound weird? Well, here are some motives which explain the benefits to both parties:

Your tandem’s motive: You speak the language that they want to learn, and that suggests that they are interested in learning about your culture too. You’re like an exotic creature in their land, and besides from learning their language, they want to get to know you. 

Your motive: Practicing the language. Finally having someone explain the small gestures you’ve been seeing people do in your new home but never really understood or had someone to talk to about it. They can give you a local’s insight into where to go, what to see, and what not to do (in their native language, of course!), and most importantly listen to you.  

How to do it?

You might feel really embarrassed at first, trying to mumble your first words in the chosen language. Don’t worry about your tandem judging you, because once you switch roles, it will be their turn to impress you. The point is to correct the mistakes the other one makes, until the language you are practicing is flawless.

5  Strategies for finding your perfect tandem:

Potential Tandems are everywhere. You just need to learn to spot them. Here’s a few ways you can go about finding the right One:

1. Language exchange groups:

Every major self-respecting city has language exchange groups. These groups make the cities global, hip, and welcoming to strangers and international students. In the event that your city doesn't, make sure to gather up a cool crew and create your own. 

2. At your university:

Many universities in the world organize these meetings to allow their international students to integrate into the country and meet new people. If you haven’t heard about anything like this, knock on your international office door, and ask the staff members about it. They can give you all the details and point you in the right direction.  

3. Hostels - a meeting point for people from all over the world: 

Some Hostels in your town might also host language exchange meetings. Although you might not want to associate yourself with tourists, a language exchange meeting at a hostel is actually not a bad idea! It could be a meeting point for a lot of locals and international students like yourself, who want to learn that foreign language. Call the closest hostel around and give it a shot.   

4. Facebook pages:

The most effective way to find tandems is through Facebook pages and events. If you search for tandem groups in your city or language, trust me, you’ll be able to find quite a few people who are interesting in meeting up for a coffee, and blabbering in their language of choice. You can even write your own post on what exactly it is that you are looking for, and the right person will find you.

Before you contact your potential tandem, make sure that you are presenting yourself on social media in a way that is not going to freak them out.  You can do that using Rep'nUp, to scan your profile.

5. On the street and here, there and everywhere!

You would be surprised at the amount of people that are interested in learning your language. Doesn't matter if it's widely spoken or not, there will always be that one person in a group that has taken up trying to learn it. If you find someone like that, don't hesitate. Ask them if they want to be your tandem. 

The beautiful thing about “tandeming-up” is that it serves a number of purposes. You get to meet awesome people who are open minded enough to take interest in your culture and your language too. This makes the interest mutual. Second – you get to practice and improve your language of choice and make as many mistakes as you can. Third – you make local friends who will make your stay so much more interesting and give you a genuine experience in your new home.