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Study-Abroad-New-Panellist | WYSE Travel Confederation
Brexit’s Impact: UK’s loss, Ireland’s gain – so how can our business respond?
WYSE News | May 22, 2024

Brexit has unquestionably reshaped the landscape of student travel between the EU and the UK, particularly in school group excursions and, notably, work experience and volunteering opportunities. Ireland emerges as a clear beneficiary in this scenario. Rather than simply lamenting the loss and hoping for better times, it’s imperative to acknowledge the causes and proactively adapt to the new circumstances.

Identifying the Causes

There are four primary factors contributing to the market impact post-Brexit.

  1. EU students now require a passport, rather than just their ID card, to travel to the UK.
  2. Work rights are restricted mainly to volunteering in the third sector.
  3. Certain funding sources, such as Erasmus and some governmental funds, either disallow or severely limit travel to the UK.
  4. Lastly, there’s an intangible factor of some ill-will stemming from Brexit itself.

Potential Solutions Longer-term

  • One approach is to lobby authorities for change. Recent developments, such as French school groups being allowed to travel to the UK on student ID cards, indicate the potential for policy adjustments. Lobbying efforts, especially targeting future Labour MPs, could capitalise on the shifting sentiments towards Brexit and its impact on students.
  • Additionally, advocating for limited-period work rights for students aged 16 and above could alleviate labour shortages in seasonal industries without significantly affecting migration numbers.
  • Promoting Alternative Destinations : For privately funded students, Ireland offers a compelling alternative to the UK. However, it’s essential to recognise that Dublin isn’t London, which remains a magnet for visitors. Highlighting Ireland’s unique attractions can help attract students seeking enriching experiences beyond the UK.

Innovative Offerings: We can act now

Rather than solely relying on external changes, there’s scope for organisations to innovate internally. Two key questions to consider are:  a) what are our core competencies, and b) can we find new ways to deploy them, especially in areas where external change, like Brexit, has rendered them underutilised.

In our case, through both our award-winning international work experience offers and UK government contracts, employability training and employer engagement were two such examples.

These enabled us to develop specialised courses tailored to the needs of European vocational student groups to help enhance language proficiency, cultural immersion, and work skills acquisition.

Exploring unconventional offerings and reimagining partnerships with universities and the third sector can further diversify opportunities.

Embracing Change

When faced with challenges, the question shouldn’t be whether something is possible but how it can be achieved. Embracing change and remaining open to unconventional approaches is key to navigating the evolving landscape of student travel post-Brexit.

I wish all stakeholders success in adapting to these new realities!


Jacqui Fox

Twin Group

Study Abroad Panel

The Study Abroad Sector Panel represents a diverse range of youth travel programmes with a strong academic component and emphasis on participants’ learning. This includes programmes such as educational tours, experiential learning, language studies, secondary and tertiary education, skill-based and vocational training and other education-focused experiences.
The Study Abroad Sector Panel provides support to organisations producing and/or selling such programmes, and facilitates their success and growth.

WYSE Travel Confederation Study Abroad Sector Panels