The generation comprising new, young voters is often heralded as having the most to lose or gain whichever way the vote goes at the June 23rd referendum on EU membership. They comprise a multi-faceted and multi-talented spread, and their voices are often drowned out in the hyperbole maelstrom that so often is British politics. Here we speak to one Frome born voter who is studying in the EU, about his experiences and hopes for the future.
For one reason or another all of us talk about the EU on a fairly regular basis, whether it is to do with foreign national issues like financing, or current affairs such as the refugee crisis or of course the impending EU Referendum. When it comes to the referendum, views amongst British and indeed European friends and acquaintances are resoundingly similar, as to be expected from expats; students or otherwise. The general feeling here is that knowledge of a potential Brexit has not really affected our current situation in Denmark. It could however have quite a serious affect on plans being made for the near future, especially by those who graduate next month. As for those of us continuing our study next year, while we are relatively confident that our own education will not be affected
Something that is perhaps more noticeable as an expat, is how little coverage expats or emigration from the UK gets in comparison to than on immigration, especially considering there are around 1.3 million British expats in Europe.
It is also possible that through living abroad we have been made more aware of all the benefits we are currently entitled to as a member of the EU which we potentially stand to lose if Britain were to leave; such as access to healthcare, and the right to work. Even paying considerably less to study here (or elsewhere in Europe) having a job is essential as a student, as no funding is available from UK or foreign government.
Denmark’s position in the EU is akin to that of Britain, as one of the member states with the most significant exemptions from certain EU policies (give examples?), and in December of last year, Danish voters rejected a proposal to replace Denmark’s long-standing opt-out from the EU’s justice and home affairs system with a case-based opt-in model. This said however, any Danes I have spoken to about the EU referendum seem to think the UK would be stupid to leave.
The longer I stay in the city, the more it grows on me, and this has never been truer than since the summer started and the streets have come to life; every plaza, park and inch of waterway covered in people eating, drinking, swimming and cruising by on every vessel imaginable. When this is coupled with good job opportunities, strong friendships, the chances I will stay some time beyond my masters are rather likely. Joining one of Copenhagens numerous architects offices, or indeed starting up a new business here, seems to be the predominant plan amongst British friends also studying here; how significantly possibilities will change if the UK decides to leave the EU I don’t know.
Joe Penn is a post-graduate student of Architecture at Copenhagen's Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
His Alma Mater is from Oxford Brooks University
regardless of the outcome, we predominantly feel very passionate about not risking the possibility for the UK youth to study/work abroad in the future; the experience of living, studying and working abroad is of ever increasing value both as an individual and professionally (as industries becoming increasingly globalised) and is something that I personally have gained immeasurably from.
Beyond the initial education hurdle, fellow students and recent graduates working in the same field tend to see a potential Brexit making progress in the architectural profession more difficult as it becomes further mired in regulatory and contracting complications, and the UK stands to lose its influence on procuring work in Europe.
Having lived here in Denmark for almost 10 months now, it does feel for the most part like home. However, like all my Brit friends here, I feel no less strongly tied to Britain as my true if not permanent home, and my position on the EU referendum is not, at least consciously affected by my status as expat. Speaking for all the fellow expats I have come into contact with, we are unanimously in the Remain camp and hope that this is the way the public votes, not for the benefits we may or may not receive but rather choosing the principle of unity over individuality and the message this sends. This does not mean condoning the EU as it exists but it does seem that Britain is in a much better position to influence reforms from within rather than by making ourselves outsiders.
The United Kingdom electorate voted on the strength of 52% on Thursday June 23rd to leave the European Union. Discussions are ongoing and as of publishing, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has not been triggered to begin withdrawal.
Another significant reason for staying to practice Architecture here is the fact that on graduating from the masters, one becomes a qualified architect in Denmark (and much of the EU) but not in the UK, where additional criteria must be met. Architecture is a highly globalised profession, with many, even very small, firms working on projects internationally.
The possibility for international study across Europe has never been greater than it is right now. Open borders, cheap flights, exchange programmes and increased publicity of available courses lead more and more students to study at least part of their undergraduate or masters abroad. A quick search on MastersPortal results in over 1500 masters courses taught in English across mainland Europe, at the vast majority of which fees are charged , at least for EU citizens, at the same rate as native residents. With postgraduate fees at around 12,000 in the UK it is no surprise many are looking to study abroad. I moved to Copenhagen at the end of August last year ready to study a Masters in Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK). There are many other foreign EU students studying at KADK, of whom the majority are studying the full two years of their programme here, though a large number also come for a semester on exchange. Copenhagen, and KADK in particular seems, from my position, a popular place to study, particularly for Brits, probably attracted by the opportunity to study for free (as EU citizens) and the range of courses taught in English. Of people I know at my school, who also come from countries in the EU, I would say that around 40% are from the UK.