On Friday morning, we awoke to the news that the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. This decision to leave earned 51.9% of the vote compared to 48.1% who voted to remain. It seemed that after this announcement, we were constantly being given pieces of information; such as the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, the pound crashing to its lowest position since 1985 and Scotland’s likely second independence referendum. Despite the nation being split into two over this outcome, it is necessary to look to the future and understand what the next steps are and see what Brexit could mean for students.

The Basics

We have decided to leave the EU, what happens next? First of all, David Cameron’s successor must invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will officially start the legal process of the UK withdrawing from the EU. This process takes two years, the time being used for the UK and the EU to discuss and negotiate this withdrawal. At any stage during this, a second referendum could be held on the terms being negotiated or even if we should still leave the EU.

If no deal is reached after these two years, the UK will cease to be a Member State of the EU, meaning that any EU laws affecting the UK and its citizens will no longer be enforceable. It could take years to renegotiate laws and treaties on trade, border control and worker’s rights.

However, the UK could also reach an amicable agreement with the EU, whereby there is a relationship between the two that governs trade, foreign policy, border control, etc.

Students

In NHSF (UK)’s survey held in May, 51% of respondents wanted to remain, with 35% wanting to leave and the remainder undecided. The Referendum results showed that 75% of 18-24 year olds voted to remain. But what are the consequences of the vote going the other way? On the whole, it seems pretty uncertain as to what the future holds. There could be implications for research funding for universities, freedom of movement and even collaborating with other nations.

A key argument in favour of leaving the EU was that it is an undemocratic organisation. At this time, it is important that we uphold the results of the referendum that were reached democratically. Despite a majority of students supporting the losing outcome, this is a time to be united and support the process, no matter what outcome you voted for. There will be opportunities to campaign and provide information during the negotiations, which will ensure that students’ best interests can be represented in the exit deal.

The President of Universities UK, Julia Goodfellow, said on Friday morning that their first priority as an organisation is “to convince the UK Government to take steps to ensure staff and students from EU countries can continue to work and study at British universities and to promote the UK as a welcoming destination for the brightest and best minds.” NHSF (UK) supports this statement for it upholds two of our aims: to create a home away from home for students, and ensuring Hindu representation in all spheres of society.