Emma Egedal Nilsen (20) planned to work in the UK after graduation. That is hardly the case now.
Nilsen is one of 4000 Norwegians taking higher education in the United Kingdom. Although the EU question will not have consequences for her undergraduate studies at the London College of Communication, she has changed her plans for the future.
“Brexit hurts my stomach,” Nilsen tells NTB ahead of the fateful parliamentary election on Thursday.
“I came to London with great ambition to stay here. Now I don’t feel like it anymore,” she adds.
First, Nilsen is tired of the uncertainty that prevails almost four years after the British voted to leave the union. Second, she dislikes the “cultural and philosophical” atmosphere.
“No human being is an island,” says the declared globalist.
“We are the first generation to have the privilege of dealing with the whole world, and then we say “no, we can’t be bothered”? I think it’s really sad.”
In the party leader duel with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeated his familiar slogan of getting Brexit done. Recent polls suggest that he and the Conservatives will win about 44 per cent of the vote, against Labour’s 32 and the Liberal Democrats’ 13 per cent.
ANSA, the Association of Norwegian Students Abroad, assures that the rights of Norwegian students will be safeguarded, regardless of the composition of the parliament and how the process of enrollment will be. But neither does Alexandria Marie Elboe Gogstad (21) – who studies political economics at King’s College – think her British stay will be particularly long.
“There is a surprisingly large cultural part of this that is unpleasant for an immigrant. Because we are immigrants in London,” she tells NTB.
“We are experiencing a more polarized debate both in the public sphere and in the school. There is talk of “us Englishmen” versus “everyone else.” Also, I had plans to work here, but it seems less appealing today. I’m more tempted to go back to Norway.
That said, Gogstad hopes the Tories achieve a majority in the election.
“That way they can get the UK out of the EU in January. Then at least a lot of the uncertainty will be over because they have a solution for something that has been democratically determined.”
According to ANSA president Hanna Flood, the practical consequences will be different depending on whether or not this happens with the famous divorce agreement. But there should be full opportunity to educate in the UK anyway.
“There are systems in place to secure the rights of Norwegian students in both cases,” Flood told NTB.
“And the Government Loan Fund will continue to provide support for approved educational programs. What may be different after Brexit, however, is about professions that require special authorization within the EU and the EEA.”
Lotte Westfal-Larsen Prytz (19) arrived in London in October to study law at King’s. Unlike already established Nilsen and Gogstad, she knew exactly what extreme political situation she was getting into.
“I was prepared, slipped into it and take it as it comes. What happens happens. I don’t think it will affect us that much,” she says. Prytz is most worried about the weak Krone.
“That’s what most of us are thinking about now,” she says.
“But I wanted to study abroad and thought England was natural. Norway is not in the EU and I think that the UK will find similar arrangements. I choose to look positively at it and think it will go well.”
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today