By Tess Sohngen, Senior Staff Writer
Everyone in London went to bed that Thursday, June 23, knowing the votes to remain in the European Union (EU) were in the lead. Amid the political turmoil, everything would return to normalcy by the weekend. Great Britain would still be in the EU.
Friday morning I did not check my phone for the news — I thought I did not have to. It was an uncommonly sunny day in London, England; I was still rolling off my home city’s NBA championship and imagining what would happen to my city in the upcoming Republican Presidential Election.
I was not present, I would argue, in this old city until I received a Group Me message from a student in my program.
“Well, it might be a good time to grab a couple pounds today, the pound fell quite a bit compared to the dollar in the reaction to the referendum.”
My heart dropped.
“Scotland’s next! You know they’re going to call another referendum. You know it!” the man in front of me said to the barista at Caffè Nero. The barista shook his head and stared at the counter before handing the man his coffee.
I ordered my “coffee soup” (just a medium coffee, but my coworker Roxy would tease me for the amount of coffee I could put away each morning), and hurried to work. It was 9:15 a.m., and Roxy was the only one in the office. She asked me how I was, and I lied and told her I was fine.
In hindsight, I was fine. Emotionally I was disappointed and indeed disgusted with the results, but I would not be as affected as my fellow interns, Isla and Will.
Students from nations across the EU benefit from paying equal tuition fees regardless of the country they come from, as long as both their country and the country in which they attend school are both members of the EU. When Great Britain officially ‘Brexits,’ that luxury will no longer apply to EU students studying in Great Britain or British students studying elsewhere in the EU.
Imagine you are an out-of-state student at Miami, but tuition cost for in- and out-of-state students was the same, $26,247, and this rule applied to all 50 states. But, when your senior year of college rolls around, the rule is abolished, and now your tuition costs $43,552. This is the reality British and EU students face.
Isla and Will both attend the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, but neither have Scottish citizenship. If the Brexit occurs before they graduate, they could see their tuition increase over 400 percent.
Lucky for them, their university emailed every current and 2016 prospective student assuring them that their promised tuition fee would not change for the duration of their courses. Students of 2017 might not be so lucky.
Other colleges in the EU said their tuition fees could rise for British students. The Maastricht University in the Netherlands encouraged their 500 British students to apply as soon as possible to obtain the £1,600 yearly tuition, which could increase to almost £8,360 after the Brexit.
Beyond tuition, students are raising questions about changes to their scholarships, student loans, research funding and student or work visas.
For currently enrolled students, their scholarships and loan access will not change for the duration of their courses, but this is not promised to next year’s students and those of future generations.
College for students both in the States and across the pond brings enough uncertainties in the experience alone. Will I have a job when I graduate? What job would I want? Where am I going to be after these three or four years? The Brexit has only exacerbated this.
I think about Isla and Will and how their election has wounded — and will continue to wound — European students. I wonder if my country’s election this November could do the same.
Email Tess Sohngen at email@example.com