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Study Abroad Office Uncertain of Any Changes to Come from Brexit

Courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsDespite the possibility of the UK leaving in EU, Loyola’s study abroad office expects to continue offering programs in the UK, with partner schools and organizations offering study abroad, including Fordham University, another Jesuit university.

As the United Kingdom (UK) plans to leave the European Union (EU) in what is known as Brexit, Loyola’s study abroad office is keeping an eye on potential changes to students’ experiences while studying abroad, but is uncertain of how and if it could impact programs.

Loyola’s study abroad office is currently unsure if and how Brexit — set to occur on Oct. 29 — will affect students studying abroad, according to Jacob Schoofs, a study abroad advisor at Loyola.

To prepare for any changes to come from Brexit, Loyola has remained in close contact with some of its partners, according to Schoofs.

“Having that rich relationship [with our partners] is the best way to prepare [for Brexit],” Schoofs said. “They are on the ground and are experiencing what is going on over there and will help us understand how any changes could affect our students.”

Loyola’s study abroad office expects to continue offering programs in the UK with its partnered schools and organizations offering study abroad programs, according to Schoofs. He said some of its partners include Fordham University, the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), Academic Programs International (API) and the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES).

The UK is one of the top six locations Loyola students choose to attend while studying abroad, according to Schoofs. He said between 30 to 75 Loyola students study abroad in the UK each year.

The UK voted in a referendum — a general vote on a political question — in 2016 to leave the EU. The government then put into effect Article 50 of the EU Treaty, which allows any member state to leave the EU. This began the two-year period for the UK and EU to negotiate the terms of withdrawal, according to Chris Hasselman, a professor in Loyola’s political science and global and international studies department.

The British Parliament must approve the withdrawal terms, but they’ve voted no to the terms three times, according to Hasselman. If the British Parliament can’t approve the terms, there would be a no-deal Brexit, meaning there would be no set plans for the future of the relationship between the EU and UK. A no-deal Brexit could cause problems with trade, finance and migration, Hasselman said.

The rules of the EU allow for easier travel between member states and economic transactions. Part of the withdrawal agreement was to find replacements for these rules, according to Hasselman. If there’s a no-deal Brexit, there wouldn’t be any rules for the UK, causing problems Hasselman said.

Around five or six Loyola students attend Fordham’s London Centre each semester, according to Joseph Rienti, the director of international and study abroad programs at Fordham University, a Jesuit university in Bronx, NY. He said Fordham’s been in communication with the British Consulate in New York regarding Brexit.

Rienti said Fordham’s study abroad office hasn’t heard of any intention to alter immigration policies for US students going into the UK. Brexit will not impact Americans’ ability to obtain a visa — which is required to study abroad, according to Hasselman.

“For Americans, I don’t think there is going to much of any [impact],” Hasselam said. “If you’re going to stay [in the UK] for a long term you need a visa but that’s not going to change for Brexit.”

Rienti said many students while abroad in the UK often visit other European countries. It’s currently unclear how traveling between the UK and EU countries could be impacted by Brexit, according to Schoofs.

Costs of study abroad programs are less likely to change, according to Schoofs. Rienti said tuition rates for Fordham’s London Centre are set in New York and he doesn’t think Brexit will impact tuition.

However, the costs of living in the UK could possibly fluctuate, depending on whether the pound becomes weaker or stronger, according to Schoofs.

Throughout the process of Brexit, Fordham has been watching the fluctuating value of the British pound, according to Rienti. He said he’s noticed as things move closer to a no-deal Brexit, the pound becomes weaker.

When the pound becomes weaker, students Rienti said students can benefit from it. He said it allows students to get more British currency when exchanging American dollars.

Loyola junior Emma Rust, a nursing major, said she spent two weeks in the UK this past semester completing part of Loyola’s community health nursing course. She said she was able to get more currency since the value of the pound was lower than it’s been in the past.

“I know in years past you would get £100 for $200 whereas I was able to get £100 for $130,” Rust, 20, said.  

Another concern is security issues due to demonstrations which have occurred since the initial Brexit vote, according to Rienti. He said Fordham regularly communicates with the US embassy in London to address concerns regarding demonstrations which have recently been focused on Brexit.

Some Loyola students who have recently studied abroad in the UK noticed concerns with Brexit were prevalent in the social and political climate.

Cassidy Platte, a marketing major, spent the fall 2018 semester abroad in London. She said she once saw a protest against Brexit outside of Parliament in December.

“It was definitely big and visible,” the junior said. “But it wasn’t a riot and wasn’t very destructive.”

Karin Naragon, a communications studies major, spent the entire 2018-19 academic year studying in London. She said things were tense in the UK leading up to March 29, the date the UK was originally supposed to leave the EU.

“People were kind of freaking out about what was going to happen because everything was so unknown,” the junior said. “People weren’t sure how to prepare for it because they had no idea what [post-Brexit] would look like.”

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