Anger at York vice-chancellor flares as Brexit threatens tuition fee rise


York undergraduates from the EU could see their tuition fees skyrocket from £9,000 to over £20,000 by September 2018.

As Britain voted for Brexit, vice-chancellor Koen Lamberts was forced to admit: "At this time, it is difficult to assess the impact of this decision on the University.”

EU undergraduates may have to pay £20,100 per year for degrees including biology, chemistry, electronics, physics and computer science, if they become classed as international students.

Those studying courses including archaeology, history, law, maths, philosophy, politics, and sociology, could see their fees shoot to £15,680.

To study medicine at York could become 300% more expensive for EU nationals – the current fee for international students is a staggering £28,000.

Many masters degrees could also become prohibitively expensive for students from the continent; some cost international students over £20k.

Advocacy group Universities UK has moved to reassure students who are starting this year and in 2017. “At this stage, there is no reason to assume any change to their immigration status, access to the student loan book or fee status,” they said.

But YUSU president Ben Leatham warned: "There are risks to student finances, student recruitment, student prospects. There are risks to the university's financial stability, it's research, its reputation."

He said: "We overcome these challenges through creative thinking, through unity, through adopting an even more global outlook. The university is internationally focused. York students are inclusive and open minded. We must hold onto these attributes and put them at the heart of our ethos."

The university’s Executive Board are understood to be meeting on Monday to discuss what will happen next.

Lamberts said: "We are a resilient institution with a global outlook and we will continue to deliver world-class teaching and research, collaborate internationally and run international student programmes.

“We will ensure that all staff and students are kept informed as the implications of the Referendum result become clearer in the coming months."

Yet university bosses have come under fire from students tonight, who accuse them of not doing enough about the referendum.

Lamberts did not put his name on an open letter from 103 other vice-chancellors calling on the UK to vote remain.

In February he said leaving the EU would have “severe” implications and pose a “great risk to this university.”

At the time, Lamberts said the university would not officially call for people to vote to stay in the EU: “We had agreed we wouldn’t take a campaigning position.”

Now students have told York Vision of their anger over his decision not to take more action.

Seán Mackey, a first year Constantine student, said he was “perplexed” as to why the vice-chancellor did not add his name to the letter.

“As a student that benefits from home status I'm in a privileged position and can continue my studies, but if I had registered as an EU national then I would be in a situation where a hike in costs like that would effectively force me to suspend my studies and seek education elsewhere,” he said.

“I was unaware that the vice-chancellor hadn't called on students to vote remain when so many others did.”

Fiaz Shahpal, a Langwith fresher, said he was “disappointed with the EU referendum result, and more so that the vice-chancellor of our own institution failed to sign a petition asking for people to vote remain – despite 103 other vice-chancellors signing it.”

The university will now also face pressing questions over its decision to launch an expensive new office in Brussels to “influence EU research policy.”

Top uni bigwigs jetted off to Belgium in April to open the office, billed by one student as an “unnecessary and gross misuse of public funds and student tuition,” at a swanky bash in a Marriot hotel.

The office was a joint project with the universities of Leeds and Sheffield, and was meant to be part of a “long term strategy.”

What research funding the three universities will now get from the EU is uncertain. In March, a letter signed by 150 leading scientists said Brexit would be “a disaster for UK science and universities.”

The university said it had no comment on why Lamberts did not sign the letter, or on the future of the Brussels office.

David Cameron said he would resign as prime minister this morning after the ‘leave’ campaign won the referendum on EU membership with 52% of the vote.

York, however, sided with ‘remain,’ which won a 58% share of the vote in the university’s local area