British universities brace for likely drop in E.U. students

​Will a British exit from the European Union lead to a drop in enrollment of European students at U.K. universities?

Many expect that it will. Currently E.U. nationals make up 5.5 percent of students at U.K. universities, and they’re eligible for domestic student tuition rates and British student loans. If those terms were to change — if E.U. nationals were to be assessed the higher tuition rates other international students pay and if they weren’t eligible for government loans — it’s reasonable to think some of those students would look elsewhere to study.

“Some of that prospective student base will start considering alternatives,” said Rahul Choudaha, the CEO of DrEducation, a global higher education research and consulting firm. “They don’t want to be part of this massive uncertainty which will happen in the next couple of years. U.S., Australia, other European countries which are offering English-taught programs, that’s where some of the traffic will start showing up.”

Last Thursday’s vote by the U.K. citizenry in favor of a Brexit has ushered the country’s universities into a period of profound uncertainty. Many academics opposed a Brexit vote, believing it would inhibit international research collaborations and make it more difficult for universities to attract talent from across the continent. Whether E.U. nationals might need visas to study and work at British universities in the near future remains …