Brexit boost for UK universities

15/09/2016

UK universities and education institutions will benefit from the ‘Brexit effect’ as studying in the UK is now much cheaper for international students, according to new research by Western Union Business Solutions (‘WUBS’).

WUBS, a leader in global payment services, has analysed tuition fee payments data for the main overseas markets and found that tuition fees are up to a fifth (22.1%) cheaper than they were last year for some students. This will make studying in the UK much more affordable and more appealing to those coming to the UK for their degrees. This is expected to have a knock-on effect on UK universities competing for international students against leading academic centers in the U.S., Europe and Australia. Not only is the cost of tuition cheaper but it will also be much cheaper to live in the UK now as the cost of other essentials, such as food and accommodation, will also be significantly cheaper than they were pre-Brexit.

Studying in a UK university is very popular with students from across the world looking to further their education at a reputable institution. At present, some of the largest numbers of international students coming in to the UK to study are from China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, America and Eurozone countries. In fact, the latest UCAS figures reveal that more EU students are studying in the UK this year than ever before, with nearly 27,000 starting in September, which is a new record for the UK[i]. As UK universities invoice students for tuition in pounds sterling, all of these students will find the cost has fallen this year due to how weak the pound is in comparison with their home currency.

Malaysian students will benefit from the biggest reduction as the Malaysian Ringgit has performed exceptionally well against the pound over the last year. Based on an average year’s tuition fee of £10,000, Malaysian students will find the cost of their tuition will be more than a fifth (22.1%) cheaper for them compared to September 2015. Likewise Singapore students will find their tuition costs them 20% less and American students just over 17% less.  

Cost of a year’s tuition at a UK university for overseas students based on £10,000 September 2015 vs August 2016

 Table 1

Even new students who haven’t studied in the UK before will find that the cost of their degree will be cheaper now than it was a few weeks ago. Since the EU referendum was held on 23 June, all students across key markets will have seen the cost of tuition become at least 10% cheaper for them.

Students from India will have seen the biggest fall in the cost of UK tuition, saving 14% compared to 23 June. They are closely followed by students in Malaysia (13.7%), USA (13.4%) and Saudi Arabia (13.4%), also saving similar amounts. While students based in the Eurozone will still have seen the cost of tuition fall by almost 12%, a saving equivalent to around £1,350[ii].

Cost of a year’s tuition at a UK university for overseas students based on £10,000 pre and post 23 June 2016

 table 2

Since the referendum, the government has being doing all it can to mitigate any economic downturn and strengthen the pound. Although the pound is relatively weak against these currencies at the moment, it is highly probable that it will strengthen again in the near future.

Commenting on the research, Tony Crivelli, UK & European Managing Director at Western Union Business Solutions, said:

“Studying abroad is not cheap, yet for students coming into the UK from overseas the cost of tuition is much cheaper than it has been for a year due to the relative weakness of the pound. This is great news for international students and means that they can get a world-class degree from a UK university for a much lower price.

“It is also good news for universities here as the UK has been one of the most expensive places to study in the world but now it is significantly cheaper than it has been for years. Students who are attracted to the UK by the cheaper cost this year will stay for three years on average to complete their degrees and so the benefit will be felt for years to come.

“There is no guarantee that the exchange rates will remain this favorable for long and the relative cost could soon increase again. We would urge all those who are due to pay invoices in sterling for their September tuition before their course starts to take advantage of the current rates and make their payments sooner rather than later where possible.” 



[i] Source: UCAS. The number of EU students placed has increased to 26,800 (+11%) – the highest number recorded – and international acceptances have stayed around the same level as 2015 (+0.4%) at 29,300. https://www.ucas.com/corporate/news-and-key-documents/news/results-day-update-%E2%80%93-18-august-2016

[ii] 1554 Euros would buy £1,346 at the time of writing on 17.08.16