Brexit: A guide for American students

What does Brexit mean?

Britain + exit = Brexit.  In other words, the UK is leaving the EU.

What is Article 50?

Article 50 is a plan for any country that desires to exit the EU. It recently became law in 2009 as part of the Treaty of Lisbon which all EU members signed. Before 2009, there was no formal process to leave the EU. I was shocked to learn that the article is only five paragraphs long. You can read more about Article 50 here.

What happened?

The UK has voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. Leave won the majority of votes in England and Wales, while every council in Scotland saw Remain majorities. Certainly, I was surprised and disappointed by the outcome of the referendum. Politically, economically and socially, it felt like a backward step for Britain and the world.

What does this mean for international students?

What struck me was the business-as-usual attitude that prevailed in the United States and England. While everyone I spoke to was clearly aware of the potential effects Britain leaving the EU could have, international peers and EU students focused on the fact that the country’s status within the EU would not change overnight.

It seems the EU students probably feel more strongly about Brexit. Their biggest concerns for the future include possible increases in tuition fees and the potential for more stringent visa regulation. Political stability within the entirety of the EU after Brexit was also flagged. Still, my classmates from the States have little to no idea about Brexit because they believe, it does not directly affect them. But this is false.

Nonetheless, the impact on the economy and the pound is already noticeable. Although the pound has already recovered slightly after an initial fall of more than 10 per cent, it is possible that it will remain weak against other currencies, impacting both outgoing and incoming international students who pay, or expect to pay, tuition fees in a currency other than their own.

Now what?

Prime Minister Theresa May has officially notified the European Union that she will trigger Article 50 on 29 March. The UK will use Article 50 to exit the EU and is officially going to leave the EU. As a result, the process will take a minimum of two years for the UK to leave the EU.

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Before I started gathering analyses for this post, I was unsure of what to expect. I thought people anticipated some negativity reflective of the media coverage on this topic. Instead, I have been surprised by the facts and student opinions I have collected, as it seems that international students like myself are so far feeling largely unaffected by Brexit and its possible ramifications. Regardless, Article 50 is in full affect, and the United Kingdom will separate from the European Union.

Yet, for many American students, life carries on.

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