Czech students, workers seize last chance in UK before Brexit
Besides beer and cars, one of the biggest Czech exports to Britain over recent years has been students. But Brexit has cast something of a shadow over what is a booming business for the British education sector. As a result, Czechs are making what could be a last ditch bid to sign up for British courses.
“The data we have is exact, it shows an increase of 56 percent compared with last year, which means that the Czechs are, as I see it myself, trying to get a chance to study in the United Kingdom because there might be a year or two where the UK offers a very easy process and loans that are offered to students coming from the European Union.”
The Czech interest is targeted at both first degrees and masters’ qualifications after the British government made the latter more attractive by offering grants for them as well.
“The interest was mainly in the Bachelor degree programmes because this was actually funded by the government offering the loans. Right now, we also interest in Masters degree programmes because a year ago the UK government also started to offer loans to the students on these programmes. Some Czechs might like the fact that they can study for one year and complete the Master degree programme and save this year for their internship or future career.”
As well as the education programmes, Czech-us also mediates work placements in Britain and other English speaking countries.For example, it has the biggest programme in the world for offering lifeguards to the United States with around 500 flown in to the US every year. Piskač says that interest in working in Britain has increased three-fold. His company providers Czech workers to prestige hotels such as London’s Dorchester, to retailer Marks and Spencer, or coffee chain Starbucks. The motivation – worries about what might happen with Brexit – are the same.
Piskač says the current grants system makes British university affordable to Czechs, even though the loans have to be paid back eventually when a certain level of earnings is achieved. And while there is a massive campaign to keep British university doors open to European students after Brexit, he says it’s still unclear what the outcome will be.
“Nobody knows at this point and I should be honest here. We have been seeing quite frequently the representatives of UK universities here in Prague and they are all assuring us that they are building a giant coalition trying to lobby with the British government to try and keep the system as it was based on the loans for EU students.”