Does Brexit show the need for international education?

In a article by John Walmsley, Principal at the UWC Atlantic College in South Wales, he talks about the Brexit, the most polarising political event in recent UK history, exposing clear divisions within the British society both geographically and demographically.

However, Walmsley addresses the outcome with more optimism than pessimism, citing the need for young people to receive an international education. “As with most long-term societal change, the best place to start is with our young people” he states and can see that most international students can’t imagine a continent like Europe without agreements and organizations such as Schengen or Erasmus, “Does Brexit represent the antithesis of all that?”

He says that the 3/4 of Remain votes by 18-24 year olds represents their wish for a more international approach to education; it seems their voting was driven by the principle of togetherness. Whether it was the hope to freely live and travel on the continent, the wish to help refugees as a united Europe, the need to effectively battle climate change, or the desire to retain access to the European single market, the common narrative was one of not going about business alone.

Even in an unstable modern world, one thing became increasingly clear to him over the campaign – young people simply do not have the same concerns with immigration, collaboration and pluralism that older generations have. And one aspect of the campaign that Walmsley’s students frequently lamented was how much time and effort both sides spent trying to discredit one another instead of laying out the facts and arguments about their vision of the future.

“In an environment where students feel they lack proper facts and perspective in these kinds of debates, an international education makes all the more sense,” he states. “If you are constantly interacting with students of different backgrounds to find solutions to common issues, it naturally gives you a far better understanding of the spectrum of news sources and viewpoints that are out there, while also encouraging more critical thinking. And even though they may not be particularly inspired by politicians or engaged in the political process, many students want and need a platform to discuss major issues such as Brexit.”

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