What is Brexit?
Brexit comes from the combination of the words Britain and Exit. On Thursday 23 June, a referendum was held to decide whether the United Kingdom (UK) should leave or remain in the European Union (EU). More than 30 million people voted and it was the largest turnout for a vote in UK history.
What's the result?
52% voted to Leave the EU, while 48% voted to Remain. Majority of those voted to Remain were from London, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
UK is leaving the EU - but what does it mean?
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states located in Europe. It aims to encourage economic growth and cooperation between member states to trade together and avoid war or conflict between one another. This resulted in the member states acting as a single union, allowing flow of goods for business, people to travel around and sharing similar currency (the euro), parliament, transport system, consumer rights and even mobile phone service providers.
By voting to leave the EU, the UK has now invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty agreement which give the UK two years to negotiate its exit from the EU while, at the same time, legal process will proceed for the UK to withdraw itself from the EU. All of EU treaties and laws still apply to the UK until the withdrawal process is completed. However, the UK can no longer take part in any decision-making process that involves other member states.
What does this mean for Malaysian students in the UK?
1. The UK Higher Education
Tertiary level education in the UK has been the top choice of education globally, particularly for Malaysian. It has also remain as one of the highest ranking education system with the best universities in the world. It seems unlikely that Brexit will have an effect on the quality of education offered to students in the UK. Students can rest assured that they are still getting top education from the UK universities of their choice.
2. The UK Currency
The pound sterling has taken a beating and plummeted to its lowest since 1985 as the results of Brexit and the decision to leave the EU. It is currently 10% down against the US dollar and 7% down against the euro. Against the Malaysian Ringgit, the pound sterling is currently 5.8329. It was at 6.7952 just last year in September. This is good news for students studying in the UK – and parents providing the funds – as this means they can save more money on daily expenses as well as on tuition fees and rents.
3. Housing Property
Many Malaysian investors have been investing in housing properties in the UK to target Malaysian students. After Brexit, property value in the UK is expected to drop significantly. This means more investors will come in to take the opportunity to buy more properties in the UK. Since the UK tertiary education will remain strong, more students, particularly from Malaysia, will go to the UK to study. More units will be available for rental and students have more choices of places to stay in. However, do be wary as property owners might take an advantage of this and raise the rental fee for students as oppose to lowering it.
The UK is the first country to leave the EU since its formation. As it is unprecedented, not much can be said about the effect in the UK and to the rest of the world. Two-year is the time it takes for the exit process. Hence, only time will tell if this move will bring any benefit to the UK, the EU or the rest of the world. That being said, any negative impact resulting from Brexit on Malaysian students studying in the UK is highly unlikely.