Brexit; the reality for EU students

The morning the result of the EU referendum was announced, 48% of voters woke up in utter shock – shock at the dropping pound, dropping pension funds, consequences quickly disowned by the Vote Leave campaigners.

Although everyone in Britain is affected by this, certain groups of people weren’t even allowed to participate in the vote in spite of the democracy we claim to be. Even the ones who will be affected the most by the vote, such as the EU migrants.

Since the initial announcement of the result, hate crimes have spiked. Abuse targeted at both EU migrants and non-white British citizens has been calculated to be nearly 57% higher than average.

Incidents such as posting hateful leaflets bearing slogans such as: ‘Leave the EU, No more Polish Vermin’ through letterboxes in Huntingdon, men chanting ‘OUT, OUT, OUT’ at Muslim women in Brockley, have become a new and frankly terrifying, daily routine.

In light of the economic turmoil brought upon Britain by provincial rage, everyone is already suffering. Arts funding already stands as low as it can be with consecutive cuts from the Tory government, but once EU funding is removed, it might vanish completely. Removing free movement of labour and services will also see the scientific progress fall due to the inability to easily communicate between UK scientists and Europe.

Uncertainty following EU nationals’ migrant status also hits universities. Many worry whether they will be able to do that Master’s degree without paying twice the yearly tuition fee out of their pocket, or whether their families can still stay in the country until pension age without repercussions. This anxiety has been widely felt through social media, although it has been quickly shot down by keyboard warriors with slightly too much time on their hands.

Thankfully, UEA’s Vice-Chancellor, David Richardson has eased the minds of current and prospective UEA students, stating that before the end of the Brexit negotiations there will be no change to the status of EU students who plan to/already attend the university. Until then, there will also be no change to the way Student Finance works, which means it’s still possible to take out loans for the years they will be attending.

However, despite many claims that Brexit is not a result of racist sentiments, as an immigrant I have been made to feel unsafe within the community I, just like many others, made my home. Although it’s clear that many left wing Leave voters had peaceful reasons for their vote, they have simultaneously promoted the far right, racist sentiments and legitimised the hate acts that have been happening all around the country.

This vote stopped being an ideological, detached argument when people are scared to speak their language on the streets in fear of being attacked. For the moment, all they can do is hope that the majority stops seeing them as the enemy.

Image: “Brexit” by Mick Baker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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