I am an Italian student who is about to get his undergrad degree in Computer Science. As I look to further my education, I'm also looking at universities outside of my own country, also in the UK. In the past years, I always thought studying there would be a great opportunity, although expensive. But now, with the Brexit looming over, I wonder if it would still be worth it.

Preface: I want to apply to some of the major universities in England (for example UCL, Edimburgh Un., Bristol Un., so on...), and of course I need to be accepted first. It seems that universities will not be raising the tuition fee amount for EU students for the academic year 2019/2020 regardless of Brexit. I have some savings which would cover for most costs.

Assuming I get accepted to an university, what I'm looking at in the UK is: one year of studying, the average tuition fee is around 13.000€ (12.000£), the housing seems to hover around 7000€(6000£) for the period I would be studying. So far I can afford this without taking loans and such. I didn't take into account living costs yet for most cities (except London, I know it really expensive in any case), but I'm covered for another 10.000€ more or less. All of my savings gone (I'm "fine" with it, I saved because I wanted to study abroad after all)

In Italy: two years of studying, about 200€ (two-hundred) per year in tuition fees, an average of 3500€ for housing (if I can get a scholarship then I would get a room for free in most unis). Living costs would not be much a problem anywhere.

Is it worth it, spending so much money and moving away? I'm very worried about Brexit. Deal, no-deal, hard Brexit, whatever. How would it affect me as a student? I'm assuming that university-wise it would not change much, but as a person living abroad in the UK? And how would it affect me as soon as I graduate? If there is a hard Brexit, would working in the UK be worth it (assuming is would be possible).

Now I can't really talk about the quality of teaching, going by the ratings, Edinburgh, UCL, and Bristol are some of the top universties in the EU. Most universities in Italy rank as "average" in most ratings. Is it such a massive difference significant for finding a job after graduating? Of course by staying home I would be giving up the networking opportunities that I would have in a UK university (which a generally very diverse), and I think that would be that biggest loss maybe.

I would like to hear some opinions on the matter. Thank you guys, have a good day.

  • 3
    You don't need to go to the UK to study at a great University in the EU, there are very good Universities in Germany (the TU9 group), in the Netherlands, in the Nordic countries, etc. Many of them have programs in English aimed at international students, so there is no advantage of studying in the UK if you prefer English and find a program of your interest. – Matias Valdenegro Dec 19 '18 at 20:50
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    "Some major universities in England, for example Edinburgh." Before you go to Edinburgh, note that it's the capital city of Scotland and it and its inhabitants are definitely not English. – astronat Dec 19 '18 at 23:01
  • There are very good universities in Italy for CS, like the Politecnico di Milano. Also in other EU countries as others have mentioned. You don't have to insist on the UK. – xuq01 Dec 20 '18 at 1:39

Brexit will not affect the quality of the education you receive from UK universities, at least in the short term. (Longer term things are not clear, as it may become harder for UK universities to recruit faculty.) That is the main factor you should consider.

Potentially the exchange rate will make it cheaper (measured in euros) to live in the UK. Potentially it will be harder and/or less desirable to get a job in the UK after graduation. However, I can only speculate about such other factors and this is not the right place to discuss them.

  • Considering many academics in the UK are from other EU countries, who might have to leave if a no-deal brexit happens, I wouldn't be so sure about the quality of education not being affected in the short term. – ElectronicToothpick Dec 20 '18 at 9:14
  • Academics are leaving to EU and US, and often seasoned professors are replaced by inexperienced lecturers, or not replaced at all. Obviously, the quality of education will be affected. – Dmitry Savostyanov Jan 19 at 17:24
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    @DmitrySavostyanov Sure, long term the quality of faculty may decline, but, short term (i.e. the length of a masters), the turnover rate is not significant. – Thomas Jan 19 at 18:06

Purely from the point of view of cost to teaching quality, I'd say MSc in the UK is not worth it. MSc degrees in the UK are a huge business partially targeted at extracting money from foreign people wishing to move to the UK or return home with a "prestigious" degree. That's why you're looking at a 1-year degree that will cost you 20k Euro.

Now, what a degree in the UK will give you is a higher chance of getting hired by a UK company. Not from the legal point of view (so far you have the right to live and work in the UK), but because you'll get connections with people, chances for internships, recommendations from your teachers who may be known in the industry, understanding of job market and hiring processes (and universities run workshops on that), good command of the English language and so on. If your goal is to move to the UK asap and you have 20k to spare then MSc may be a way to go.

This applies to other countries as well, like France of Germany, that have a good job market and much lower tuition fees. But there you may need to speak the local language (or may not, it depends), for which you also need to invest time and money.

Finally, another valid academic way to move abroad is to get the MSc degree in your home country and move abroad for a PhD. This takes more time and effort, but the intended way to do a PhD in STEM (not in humanities) is to be paid for it (not much), and you end up having better connections, better recommendations, more opportunities for internships, etc, etc.

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