Brexit - An Unexpected Boost for British Independent Schools?
While Brexit uncertainty means all eyes are on Europe, families from outside the EU, specifically China, Hong Kong, the US, Canada and Australia are taking advantage of our weak pound and wobbly economy and grabbing the opportunity to purchase a world-class British education at a cut price. Our shouty political pantomime is music to the ears of families who deal in yen and dollars.
Sterling’s buying power has depreciated significantly over the past 12 months, hitting a 34-year low this week. This means a British education, which has always been regarded as the gold standard globally, is becoming competitively priced for overseas parents and expats moving back to the UK, many of whom could not have afforded it even a year ago. When boarding school fees are upwards of 30K a year for five to seven years and university tuition fees and living expenses are around 20K annually for three to four years, a 15% reduction in price is far more than a few pennies saved.
The property market is also floundering. The 2019 wealth report from Knight Frank finds property prices in Chelsea, London, have fallen 19% since 2014, and coupled with the pound losing value, this means if an overseas family is thinking of moving to the UK or investing while their child is based here, now is a great time to commit.
It might not sound it, but this changing landscape could potentially be excellent news for independent schools and universities. A British education has always been in demand. International parents are attracted by the rigour and demands of our school system, with its academic excellence, extra-curricular provisions and a reputation recognised and respected anywhere in the world.
For service providers in the UK working with international families and clients – who now find their money goes further on our shores – business is booming. Education is no different and companies working to connect overseas pupils and students with UK-based schools and unis are finding more placements, which means fewer vacancies. This is welcomed by both parties, especially at a time when business is Europe is stalling with many people waiting – and waiting – to see what will happen with Brexit.
The impact is also being felt in higher education. Whereas the latest figures from UCAS show an increase of 1% from EU students, this is probably a last-ditch attempt to get feet under desks before fees increase and they are no longer entitled to student loans. However, the number of non-EU international applicants has risen by 8% this year. The number of Chinese applicants has grown by a whopping 30% and for the first time ever, Chinese applications have overtaken those from Northern Ireland.
With the political situation changing hourly, it’s impossible to predict what will happen tomorrow let alone next year. But whether we Brexit or not, with or without a deal, economic instability looks certain to continue and while the currency losing value is not a positive generally, it can only mean good news for parents outside of Europe looking to invest in our education system.
William Clarence Education works with international families - both inside and outside the EU - to offer impartial advice and assistance in the transition to a British Education and ensure children are placed in the best-fit school or university for them.
For more information, contact our UK School Placement consultants.