Brexit hubris? Overseas students don’t think so
The central axis of Remainer venom appears to rest on a deep conviction that Britain is a racist, classist, unequal, unjust and broken place, with shameful delusions of grandeur. We were only too lucky to be hitched to that glorious bloc over the Channel known as the EU, and the hubris of our exit is going to redound on us (is already redounding!) in a thousand painful cuts that will show how arrogantly silly we were to think we could survive without the infinite wisdom of Brussels.
So while it is hard to be sure that things will be peachy once we do leave the EU – what’s moaning and what’s a genuine worry? – I can’t help but take pleasure in new statistics that show Britain is not quite the pathetic loser the incandescent Remain lobby says we are.
According to Ucas figures, the number of overseas candidates who have applied for places at our universities is not just strong, it is at record levels. That’s right, Britainhaters: despite everything, including dire warnings from the higher education sector, our universities are at peak popularity.
It’s really not hard to see why. We’ve got Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, the LSE, Imperial and the list goes on. Europe has… well, exactly.
Have you ever sat in on a conference paper by someone
from the Continent? I have. In Britain, we prize concision, we fear boring everyone by going way over the time or word limit, and we try to make an argument. Not so our scholarly friends from Spain, Italy and France. You may think you’re in for a 20-minute paper about 17th-century travellers in the Middle East. You’re actually in for a 40-minute waffle-fest about, well, it’s hard to say. If I could skip the educational culture that produces papers like those, I – like the 100,000 applicants that have applied for places at our universities this autumn – would certainly do so.
Even EU students prefer us; the number of applicants from the bloc having increased by 3.4 per cent to 58,450 – up from a brief post-Brexit referendum dip. Those outside the EU are keen takers, too, with applications from China and India soaring.
What the Remainers don’t seem to realise is that Britain is really pretty brilliant compared with other places. Have they ever tried to deal with German red tape, or get anything done amid French strikes or Italian corruption, or work hard in max-tax Scandinavia, where people regularly refuse promotions if they cut into holiday time? Well, quite.
Taking control: our universities are drawing in foreign applicants