Funding, students and staff: What Brexit could cost our universities

Melissa Wright

Former Reporter, ITV News Central

The EU flag Credit: PA

Britain's departure from the EU will mark the beginning of a new era for universities in the Midlands.

EU students currently pay the same tuition fees as British students and can access student loans to study here Any changes to that arrangement could affect the number of Europeans coming here to study.

British universities benefit from millions of pounds of EU funding for research and infrastructure, but leaving the EU could put that at risk.

Universities in the Midlands have also expressed concerns over whether being outside the EU will make them less appealing as potential research partners in future projects.

Video report from Melissa Wright

  • 1. EU Funding

One of the principle concerns for universities in the region has been the potential loss of significant chunks of their funding, currently provided by EU schemes and organisations.

Some of the Midlands' top universities receive more than 70% of their competitive grant funding from Europe.

Midlands Universities: Who receives most EU funding?(Source: Digital Science)

  • Coventry University: €19.9m (72%)

  • University of Wolverhampton: €6m (68%)

  • Aston University: €29.1m (42%)

  • University of Lincoln: €5.1m (38%)

  • Staffordshire University: €779k (37%)

  • De Montfort University: €9.5m (32%)

  • University of Birmingham: €178m (26%)

  • Keele University: €9.7m (23%)

  • University of Leicester: €48m (22%)

  • University of Nottingham: €153m (20%)

Figures relate to competitive grant funding for 2006 - 2015

But this weekend, there was something of a lifeline from Westminster.

Significant amounts of university funding have been provided in the Midlands by the EU'S Horizon 2020 programme. On Saturday the Chancellor announced the government would guarantee that funding - even for projects which will carry on after Brexit.

Where funding for new projects in the future will come from though still remains unclear.

“For centuries, Britain has been at the forefront of world-leading science and, as a truly global knowledge economy, it’s more important than ever that we support the brightest and best researchers and innovators." "By underwriting Horizon 2020 funding in this way today, we are again demonstrating the importance we place on maintaining the world leading research that takes place in the UK.”

Jo Johnson, Science Minister
  • 2. EU Students coming to Britain

There are thousands of EU students studying at universities across the Midlands. They're currently eligible for the same tuition fees as home students - and the same loans for fees.

But there are fears some of those students could be put off by the possibility of higher fees, as well as the message that a 'Brexit' vote sends out to those considering moving to the UK.


Number of EU students Coventry University accepted last year


Number of EU students University of Nottingham accepted last year

  • 3. Research: Britain as a research partner

A laboratory Credit: PA

Academics at prominent universities in the region have voiced their concerns about the impact Brexit could have on Britain's appeal as a partner in research projects.

The University of Leicester's Pro-Vice-Chancellor told ITV News Central he was concerned that nations would look elsewhere for research partnerships.

"The uncertainty around whether the UK will be eligible for funding going forward is frankly meaning that European partners are looking elsewhere...": "Across the universities int he UK, we're seeing these withdrawals and behaviours essentially saying: 'Why should we have the UK at the core of research bids?'" "Frankly, if I were in Germany or France, I'd be thinking about similar behaviours!" >

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Iain Gillespie

But others who backed the decision to leave the European Union insist that it won't impact Britain's status as a respected nation for research.