How Will Brexit Affect Malaysian Students?

Britian’s Exit from the European Union: beginning of the end or business as usual for Malaysian students?

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How Will Brexit Affect Malaysian Students?
Can we still get a degree from the UK?

After being part of the EU, Britain proves that even countries can’t stay married in this self-obsessed world. The UK voted with 52% of the votes to leave the EU after 43 years together. The immediate aftermath is the pound dropping to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 – cha-ching!

Sad David Cameron is sad. Why u no vote stay? Now money go down.

What does it mean for us Malaysians?

Turns out, not much.

“The direct real impact on Asia-Pacific economies from the UK’s decision to leave the EU (Brexit) is likely to be limited since the relevant linkages are weak,” said Standards and Poor’s Global Ratings in a report published by them titled ‘Brexit Impact on Asia-Pacific is Largely Credit Neutral’. It continues to say that "We believe that ratings on some Asia-Pacific financial institutions that have relatively higher direct exposures to the United Kingdom or closer linkages to the UK than their peers may face rating pressure.”

What does it mean for Malaysians in the UK?

There have been fears of restrictions on travel, job opportunities, and tuition fees. The answer: not much – for now. Negotiations for the ‘divorce’ will take another two years and the EU agreements will maintain till then. For now, enjoy the slightly weakened pound and find the time to enjoy borderless travel within EU.

How will it affect Malaysian students planning to study in the UK?

According to UNESCO, the UK is ranked #2 in the overall ranking of countries with the most international students and Malaysia is 8th in the world in terms of the amount of students studying abroad (at 56,260 students). That’s not as much as China which sees 712,157 students fleeing their country, though it’s quite a sizeable figure. Are our students headed for doom and gloom?

Education Malaysia United Kingdom & Ireland Associate Prof Dr Zainal Abidin Sanusi says no. In an interview with the NST, the Professor said that it will not affect Malaysian students currently studying in the UK and the EU referendum would not have much of an impact on the students as tuition fees will not face any changes.

 “Tuition fees will remain the same as Malaysian students do not receive any special treatments like other students who come from EU countries.

“The decision could actually bring relief for our students here as the British pound is expected to depreciate against the Malaysian Ringgit.

“The depreciation of the British pound will allow parents in Malaysia to transfer a sufficient amount of money to their children to live comfortably here,” he said. Well, according to Bank Negara Malaysia, the rate of the pound as at 30/6/2016 is going at GBP1 to RM5.4412 against GBP1 to RM5,9997 on 1/6/2016. That’s an extra RM500 for every GBP1000 you plan to convert.

Another area worth noting – if you’re of a wealthier persuasion – is the property marketiMoney says that “With the lower currency exchange rate and also lower housing prices, it could be time for these investors to start shopping for a good buy.” It says that according to Virata Thaivosigamony, director of Cornerstone International Properties, 73% of overseas Malaysian property investors in 2015 have gone into purpose-built student accommodation due to its 8% yields. Once again – cha-ching! Virata continues that the uncertainty of the pound will be an advantage to businessmen investing in the UK because UK education will remain strong regardless of Brexit. “Malaysians and other foreigners including those from the EU will not stop sending their children to study in the UK – people still want a degree from a UK university,” he said.

If you’re curious, here’s how the referendum will affect EU students studying in the UK.

EU students make up 5% of students at UK universities. Following the result, the rates for tuition will be in question after negotiations. EU students may have to pay ‘international student fees’ instead of the EU rates and mobility for students in the EU may be in question – a question without any answers currently. Times Higher Education has some good news though, as it states that it is unlikely that EU students already in the UK when it formally leaves the EU will change status with respect to visa requirements or tuition fees. A fact that may change after Article 50 is activated.

So I don’t have to put on a tin foil hat and dig an underground bunker?

If you’re a student going to the UK right now, no. Just be glad that the pound is a little weaker. If you’re planning to go to the UK in two years’ time, no. We didn’t enjoy the benefits of the EU, and we won’t in two years’ time. 

"We - ee! Are never, ever, ever, getting back together

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