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Doubts and proofs – Hungarian student life in the UK after Brexit

It is well known fact that Great Britain exited the European Union on 1 January 2021. „Nothing will change for Hungarians living in the UK after Brexit”, said Iain Lindsay, British ambassador to Hungary before Brexit.[1] He added that the UK has the biggest Hungarian-born population outside the Carpathian Basin and is the second or third largest destination for Hungarian students.

However, it must be noted that EU citizens have lost a number of benefits. Workers now have to comply with stricter residency rules, and they face a heavier administrative burden, which affects around 160,000 Hungarian citizens.[2] Young people are also affected by the changes. Prior to Brexit, the EU banned discrimination on the basis of citizenship and it gave EU students “domestic” tuition status. After Great Britain left the EU, the ban was lifted and EU students were given a new “overseas” status. As a consequence, the conditions have also changed: while the UK was a member of the EU, the maximum university tuition fee was £9250 (EUR 10,200), there was also a reduced student loan and no need for separate health insurance or a visa. Since Brexit, however, they have either been discontinued or their costs are significantly higher. After Brexit the tuition fees can range from £25,000 to £40,000 (EUR 38,000-44,000). Another £348 (EUR 386) for a visa is required, and one also has to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is an extra £470 pounds (EUR 520) compared to pre-Brexit time. Previously, the tuition fees could be covered in total by a student loan, which is now not available and which has been used by 85-90% of the Hungarian students studying in UK.[3]

In the light of the above mentioned it is not surprising, that the number of Hungarian students studying in the UK has fallen dramatically since Brexit. In 2021, 95%!!! fewer Hungarian students start university in the UK than in the previous year. “While in the year 2020–2021, around 705 students were admitted out of around 1,100 applicants, in the 2021–2022 academic year only 450 students applied out of which 190 have been admitted but eventually only 60 began their studies”, told Soma Pirityi, co-founder of the Hungarian Youth Association (HYA).[4] According to him before Brexit 2,500–3,000 Hungarian students studied in the UK each academic year, brought together by organizations such as the Milestone Institute, the HYA or the New Generation Centre with the aim to bring home to Hungary those students who have graduated from top-ranked British universities. HYA estimates that after Brexit this process will be completed, after 2021, a maximum of 1-2 Hungarian students per university will be appear.

The facts described above were confirmed by our interviewee, who graduated from a university in London: “I wanted to do a one-year master’s course, because here a master’s is only one year. So I was of the opinion that one year is nothing, especially after three years, which I have already done….. And so far the tuition fees have been the same as for the English. And for that you had a student loan with very, very favourable conditions. But this has now been abolished….. And that’s why I didn’t enroll for a master’s degree. I think that’s why a lot fewer people come to study here. I have friends who wanted to study here, but they don’t come here anymore. Due to the unfavorable conditions. They either stay in Hungary or go to other countries to study.” (Young Hungarian girl)

Consequently, it can be stated that Brexit has affected not only trade or labour workers, but also university students, which also triggered new social processes in both countries.


[1] https://abouthungary.hu/news-in-brief/british-ambassador-to-hungary-nothing-will-change-for-hungarians-living-in-the-uk-after-brexit

[2] https://dailynewshungary.com/hungarian-students-hit-hardest-by-brexit/

[3] https://444.hu/2021/08/30/a-brexit-miatt-veget-er-a-brit-egyetemeken-tanulo-magyarok-sikertortenete

[4] https://www.napi.hu/nemzetkozi-gazdasag/angliai-kinti-tanulas-felsooktatas-brexit-diak-oktatas-vizum-tandij-hungarian-youth-association.745947.html

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The Latest Migration Policies: Return of the Slovak Migrants from the UK to Slovakia

A proposal of the new design of the Slovak Republic migration policy up to 2025 was adopted by the Slovak government during its regular session on 8 December 2021 (https://www.minv.sk/?zamer-migracnej-politiky-slovenskej-republiky). Part of the text that is in line with our major concern, i.e. Slovak migrants in the UK and the prospective of their return to the home country as one of the possible consequences of Brexit, refers to the measures that are to be taken in order to attract at least some of the emigrants back to Slovakia.

The document highlights the fact that with regard to Slovakia’s membership in the EU and the Schengen area, the general globalization effects and developments in Slovak society have brought, in addition to some positive elements, many negatives, especially in the form of increased emigration of Slovak citizens, and a significant outflow of skilled labour. This has been happening both in the category of university graduates, as well as in the category of scarce professions. A related big issue is exodus of university students. As a result, the Slovak Republic faces a weakening of its labour market, educational potential, population in reproductive and productive age and subsequent aging, as well as some social challenges redoubled by the lack of quality reintegration programs motivating the return of Slovak citizens.

Priorities of the Slovak Republic in the field of emigration, or the ones aiming to support labour reintegration are, for example, to monitor and analyse emigration flows of the Slovak citizens and of the qualified foreign workers, students and academics successfully integrated in the Slovak Republic, to examine the forms, causes, consequences and negatives of emigration, and to outline estimates of preliminary interest in returning to the country.

What is also considered important is to develop a new comprehensive strategy to reduce the economic, social and demographic causes of skilled labour emigration in the category of scarce professions, as well as in the category of university graduates (permanent departure of university graduates). Other goals include creation of an information-and-consultation platform for the Slovak citizens abroad and evaluation of the effectiveness of the current schemes to make the return to the Slovak Republic and reintegration more attractive to university graduates, as well as taking the appropriate measures improving their functioning. Last but not least, the process of family, social, economic and cultural reintegration of returned Slovak citizens should be facilitated with regard to the specific needs of children and youth.

In the context of our research findings, the proposed measures would only be relevant if the socio-political climate of the country was changed fundamentally. Since the probability for this to happen is close to zero, our estimation of the level of impact of the new policies is also very low. Therefore, our forecast is the outflow will be continued and even increased, especially after the covid-19 pandemic is over.

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End of the pandemic? Loosening of some Covid restictions in the UK

After almost two years, the British government decided to loosen most of the restrictions introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no longer obligatory to wear face masks, show covid certificates, or to work remotely. Even compulsory isolation in the event of a coronavirus infection is expected to be removed at the end of March. Great Britain, despite the persistent high number of infections, decided to take this step because the omicron variant turned out not to affect the efficiency of the British health service so much.

From February 11, fully vaccinated people will be allowed to enter the UK without showing a negative test for Covid-19. Traveling between Poland and Great Britain in the era of the coronavirus is still not easy however, and it is Brexit that contributes to this fact. Poland, almost simultaneously with the announcement of the loosening of entry restrictions by the British, decided to tighten the regulations for people arriving from Great Britain. They must show a negative result of a PCR or antigen test, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not. Interestingly, the test is not required for those arriving from neighboring Ireland. The main reason is that Ireland is part of the European Union, while Great Britain is counted among the countries outside the EU and the Schengen zone. Polish migrants who want to visit their relatives are still oblidged to get tested and in case of being Covid positive, they are not allowed to go, which means that travels between Poland and the UK are still an uncertain venture.

The pandemic overlapped with Brexit and our research showed that it was difficult to separate the two issues when asking about uncertainty. Often rapidly changing Covid regulations, inability to predict how the situation will look like when we were trying to get back home, fear to get infected, months of separation with families in Poland – all that seemed for most of the time to be more important than trade agreements and the necessity to show the passport at border control. End of the pandemic may start to reveal true impact of Brexit. When people will start to travel more frequently and without fear, they will realise how the new political situation truly impacts them now.

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Slovakia and Migration – Flows and Effects

Slovakia is not one of the traditional destination countries for migrants. It is a culturally homogeneous country that has not been affected by the dramatic increase in migration during the 20th century. Until recently, the Slovak Republic was almost exclusively the country of origin of migrants, the country from which citizens migrated abroad for various reasons.

Slovakia’s accession to the European Union and the Schengen area brought significant changes. In the period since 2004, illegal and asylum migration in the Slovak Republic has decreased, and legal migration has increased sevenfold. Despite the fact that the growth of the population of foreigners in Slovakia was the second highest among all EU Member States in 2004-2008, the representation of foreigners in the population – compared to other EU countries – remains at a low level.

Today, foreigners in the Slovak Republic make up 2.75 percent of the population and their number is growing slowly but continuously: in December 2020, there were 6,937 more people living in our country than a year earlier, which represents an increase of 4.9%.

In addition to migration for social reasons, such as family reunification or a migrant’s marriage with a Slovak citizen, the most significant component of legal migration to Slovakia today is migration for work, business and study.

The destination country that migrants choose is closely linked to migration motives. According to various studies, the most preferred target countries are the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Thanks to their advantageous geographical location in relation to Slovakia, Germany and Austria are among the preferred destination countries for migrants from Slovakia.

If we wanted to summarize the effects of migration, then we can say that the positive effects identified include:

– opportunity to travel, get to know other cultures;

– changing social and political attitudes and values;

– building relationships, tolerance;

– increasing self-confidence;

– gaining experience;

– improving language skills and various skills;

– raising qualifications;

– increasing the chances of finding a job on the domestic labor market;

– improving the financial situation.

We consider the following to be negative effects:

– frustration from staying in a foreign country;

– separation from family and loneliness;

– lifestyle changes and the various pitfalls and dangers involved – drugs,

criminality, etc.

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Brexit. Long term effects.

One of the interviewees said few weeks ago that the true impact of Brexit is yet to come. And indeed in September 2021 serious supplies shortages are painfully experienced by the Brits making queues for petrol, empty shelves in supermarkets (which are compared by older Poles to the situation of late communism in the People Republic of Poland). It concerns not only petrol, especially diesel, at gas stations or food in supermarkets or garbage collection in a number of towns, blood tests, some drugs in pharmacies. Jonathan Freedland recently wrote in The Guardian (24 Sept 2021), that these different crises have a common denominator – Brexit. Politicians do not say it loudly and sometimes try to cover it with the pandemic, but the true and main reason of these problems lays in the long-term consequences of Brexit, recently mainly in the dramatic shortage of truck drivers. The situation there is complex but has also roots in Brexit as the drivers were usually immigrants, many of whom came from the Central-Eastern Europe. Some of them left after the referendum, fewer new came because of the Brexit regulations and those who did not leave changed their work strategy – as they don’t expect any problems with employment, they resigned from permanent positions and went to agencies to work on an hourly rate.

Also the Polish migrants point out numerous problems they are experiencing now which were non-existent before: the quality of goods went down, especially meat. One of interviewees said she started to use a local butcher as the meat in supermarkets became uneatable; another interviewee, who has just came back to Poland after 16 years told how much trouble he had with transporting his belongings – the postage companies became slow and unreliable and the customs he would have to pay would be a fortune. Finally he decided to rent a truck and drove all the way to Warsaw with his books and furniture; sending packages to Poland suddenly became unprofitable so many people started to order goods outside the UK giving the Polish address. The packages are then picked up by their relatives in Poland and then migrants take the products when they visit their families – all this only to avoid customs and high postage costs; Although it may not still be very visible in the diagrams, but interviewees observe an outflow of their kin from the UK, so very often their Polish hairdresser is no longer there which causes the necessity to change life routine and habits; Prices went up, some of the basic products cost 25 % than they used to before Brexit – this is caused mainly by customs and constant problems with the supply chains.

Not only the Poles ceased to choose Britain as an attractive goal of permanent migration, but they stopped coming here for seasonal jobs. It simply became too complicated and less rewarding comparing to many EU destinations. Also the sole consciousness that Britain is no longer European Union makes it rather unlikely that young Poles would even consider choosing the UK as a holiday work destination. They would go to Norway, the Netherlands or, increasingly often, remain in Poland.

This is reinforced by the fact, that they feel less welcome there. Most of the Polish interviewees observed the shift that the referendum made with the Brits. Many Poles were complaining that the pro-Brexit campaign broke the famous British political correctness and (sometimes artificial) kindness. As people saw that majority of the voting population have had similar thoughts regarding the migrants as they have, it has become more in place to openly declare intolerance or hostility. Occasionally migrants experienced this discrimination on their own skin. Although this wave of hostility has mostly gone away after the campaign, some of the interviewees still observe a changed approach comparing to the one from before 2016.

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“Just don’t meet any Hungarians.” Informal Hungarian community in Great Britain

In one of our previous posts we provided a brief overview of Hungarian community life based on formal institutions. Now, with the help of some interview excerpts, we would like to present how Hungarians living in Great Britain perceive each other and how the Hungarian informal community life works. Importantly, we do not claim that this is the general perception of Hungarians living in the UK towards their compatriots. Not only because the interviewees we talked with belong to a particular social group (mainly low-status workers), but also because the number of interviews does not allow us to form a complex picture on this issue. Nevertheless, from the 30 interviews we conducted, we have collected the opinions that were most frequently voiced.

One of the opinions often expressed by our informants was that the Hungarian community in Great Britain doesn’t hold together at all, “they don’t really like each other” and “they are often ashamed of each other.

“- So here the Hungarians, as I noticed, are ashamed of each other. Well, to be honest, there is a reason for that. Therefore, they are not very much looking for a relationship with each other. For example, the Hungarian parents who enrolled their children in school mostly met Hungarians only there. They could talk to each other only there.

– Did they make friends while the school lesson lasted?

– Oh well. Until they get to know each other better. But, for example, if two Hungarian children attend a common class at a London school, they will not be friends either.” (Hungarian teacher in the Hungarian supplementary school in London)

We tried to understand the cause of this phenomenon, and most responses suggested that Hungarians often deceive or exploit each other. According to one of our interviewees, there are many Hungarian-related “dark agencies” in London, where Hungarian employees are cheated and exploited. These agencies do not officially declare employees, do not pay taxes on them, so the employees have no rights, they have no national insurance number or tax number, they cannot complain to anyone etc. These “dark agencies” usually employ Hungarians who do not plan to stay in Great Britain for a long time, have low qualifications and speak English poorly.

“Unfortunately, we are the only nation who take advantage of each other in a foreign country and who do not help each other. I was deceived by many of my compatriots, so I avoid Hungarians in the UK.” (Middle-aged Hungarian man)

Another explanation for why Hungarians do not seek each other’s company could be the following:

“I didn’t move to England to make friends with Hungarians. I am not saying that I am not looking for the company of Hungarians, but rather I am looking for the company of foreigners. I would like to improve my English language skills.” (Young Hungarian man)

We’ve also heard many times from our interviewees that because they work a lot, they simply don’t have time to live a social life.

In general, we can say that Hungarians living in Great Britain are members of different informal Hungarian communities (especially local Hungarian-related facebook groups), but overall they do not keep in touch, they don’t participate in Hungarian community programs and few of them is involved in the Hungarian community.

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Ethnicity and language in mixed partnerships – what language(s) do the Slovak migrants (mothers and children) speak?

Our colleague Dagmara Majerova (Matej Bel University) published recently a very interesting article on issue of ethnic identity of Slovak migrants focused on mothers in London living in the ethnically mixed partnerships / marriages, who bring up their children in a bilingual family environment.

She found that in mixed Slovak-British families, bilingual education of children is applied in most cases, but the language of thought, ie the dominant language, becomes English in connection with the increasing age of the child. Mothers of Slovak origin choose Slovak as the language of communication at an early age, but in the process of expanding social circle, especially after starting school, the intensity of communication in the mother’s mother tongue gradually decreases. In the situation of Slovaks living in London, Slovak is in the position of a subtractive language in relation to the English language. In some cases, the child’s father opposes bilingual education due to fears of disruption of natural development or fear of using the language of communication between the child and the mother, which he does not understand.

Children in ethnically mixed families do not learn the father’s mother tongue, if it is different from the majority, only some children master it at a passive level. The reason is his busy work, due to which he spends most of the day away from home and thus maintains less intense contact with the child. Mothers of Slovak origin see in the command of two languages ​​(majority and minority) in addition to social benefits that allow the child to communicate with the wider Slovak family and its surroundings, also promising economic capital, usable in the labor market. Ethnic consciousness is therefore not activated in this case, the respondents view the knowledge of the minority (mother’s tongue) mainly from a pragmatic point of view.

Link: http://www.antropoweb.cz/en/ethnicity-and-language-on-the-example-of-slovak-british-families-in-london

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„I knew that it would be good for me here” – London in the eyes of Hungarian migrants

When landing in a new country, we are generally full with expectations. Our mind is filled with images of landmarks or fragments of a “typical” landscape. We have learnt bits and pieces about that country’s culture or have heart about rules of behaviour to respect. Nevertheless, when one arrives with the purpose to pursue studies or – as overwhelming majority of the respondents we talked with – to work, earn money or start a new life, such images and imaginations are challenged and enriched by every-day experiences. In this post we will share some notes and stories from the interviews which illustrates how Hungarian migrants perceive the United Kingdom in general and London in particular.

Most of the people we talked had landed in one of the airports of London (mainly Luton). Expect few of them, that was their first journey to the UK, or even the first time they sit on an airplane. When recalling their arrival, many burst out at laugh how they undervalued the size of an airport or a train station in London. Amanda arrived to London in February 2013 to become an au-pair. The host family could not pick her up at the airport, but sent her detailed information how to reach the Victoria Station, where they would wait for her in front of a certain exit. Amanda took it easy and believed that the hosts are too worried about how she could find orientation: “I behaved as there would be only ONE exit in the whole f*ing airport. I had no idea at all, that the airport is, well, f*ing big. But eventually, I just set off, like there would be no tomorrow. And then I left the [Victoria] Station exactly through that gate! I somehow ended up at the place we had agreed before, and she could pick me up there.”

In general, they are more than satisfied with the public transportation in London, but have limited experiences with travelling in the countryside. This is in part due to their sometimes extreme work overload (many work two jobs, 60 or more hours/week) and family duties, but they also mention the high price of train tickets as a burden to explore other parts of the UK.

Majority of the respondents live in London, which they like a lot for many reasons. We often hear about the well-organized public services and the friendliness of residents. As Mark, who arrived to London at the age of 21, remembers to his first day: “Everything was well signposted [in the city], people were ready to help, whatever I asked, they responded promptly where to find what.” Mark was born and raised in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, but London is the city which today he calls as home: “(…) by now [London] has become the home. When I return [to Budapest], I return to my homeland.” Living in central London opened the world for him: “[in UK] the ‘national culture’ is that you can be from anywhere and nobody cares about it.” By now he has friends from numerous countries around the globe, and learnt a lot about different religions, languages, cultures. This encourages him to travel to discover distant continents, as he will have friends to rely on wherever he goes. Moreover, his experiences changed his worldview and attitude. In his view Hungary “is a closed society, people don’t meet a wide variety of foreign cultures, hence they are afraid (…) and everything which is foreign culture or other culture mustn’t be good and must be locked out. (…) In the beginnings, I had in my mind, that never before I had been in a community where such amount of cultures, skin colors, religions blend, and in the first period I felt a bit awkward, worried. (…) Then I got used to it, I got to know my neighbours, the people, everybody was kind and I asked myself ‘for what reason do I feel awkward, why am I afraid to go back home in the dark…?’. I am more afraid in Deák Ferenc square in Budapest now, than at my home, I mean in London.”

Nóra works with a food delivery company, thus she travels a lot in and outside London. She has been living in London for more than a decade, but she is still amazed by various landscapes the United Kingdom offers. During the lockdown, when everybody must remain at home, she was driving the truck and shared her photos of the road with friends to hold their spirits up. What she likes the most about living in the UK can be encapsulated in the word freedom: “I feel absolute freedom. When I walk along the street nobody looks at me, as if I was not even there. (…) I can be myself, I can live in absolute freedom. There is no need to hide that I’m homosexual, I don’t need to hide.”

One of the well-known stereotypes about the UK is the unfriendly weather. Interestingly, we rarely heart any complain about the weather, on the opposite! The winter is milder than they expected and some said that they prefer the English summer than the hot Hungarian summer weeks.

All in all, the people who shared their stories with us have positive image about the UK and especially about London. For many it is a reliable, comfortable place to live, with wonderful landscapes and friendly people. In London it is easy to get by and if somebody wants it offers unlimited option dive into various cultures, whilst it grants anonymity and freedom.

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Brexit, the British (English?) nationalism and the immigrants from the V4

I was personally surprised that in the majority of the interviews I made with Polish migrants about Brexit, there appear mentions about nationalistic behaviors of the British people. Even if the interviewees have not experienced them themselves, they were told about them by friends or know it third hand. Referendum campaign revealed much of these layers of nationalism in the British society in which attitude towards immigration and immigrants played a key role. We saw banners saying “Taking our country back” or “Britain for the British”. These sentiments were reinforced by statements of pro-Brexit politicians, like Nigel Farage, who twitted on 26 May 2016 “Mass immigration is still hopelessly out of control and set to get worse if we remain in the EU”. The atmosphere around the campaign caused or contributed to some dreadful events, like the fatal attack by a group of teenagers on a Polish migrant in Harlow, on August 2016, just two months after the referendum. This event provoked a lot of discussion in the Polish mediasphere both in the UK and in Poland, although it was not clear whether the murder had purely xenophobic substrate.

For some Poles this wave of nationalism and the feeling of being unwanted was one of the elements to take into consideration in their life strategies. According to my interviewees for some this could also be another factor in making decision to leave the UK. Ita Głowacka analyzed the internet forum mojawyspa.co.uk (Głowacka 2018: 84-100) and showed emotional reactions from 223 individual posts. 143 of them related to some manifestations of discrimination experienced by them in the UK. Some also were calls to revenge and self-defense. One of the key conclusions of the article was that the Poles in the UK felt increasingly alienated and endangered after the referendum in 2016. On the other hand the negative feelings towards the British also rose within themselves.  

It is worth to quote, what an interviewee from Edinburgh said, that here nothing like this happened and I only heard rumors about what was going on in England. The Scots like Polish people. Similar opinion was shared by an interviewee from London, but he said that these acts of discrimination happened in the province, not in London. London is very multicultural. Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz writes on LSE blog (https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2019/08/06/long-read-its-the-english-stupid/) that Brexit is an expression of English, not British nationalism and that it mainly concerned provinces. This of course goes along the outcomes of the referendum, where the majority of voters voting to leave were from small towns and villages of England, while Scotland and London recorded highest percentages of ‘remain’ supporters.

English nationalism, according to professor Mike Savage rose from two factors: economical and the one referring to identity. According to a survey held in 2008 a vast majority of British people do not have racist or nationalistic attitudes, with only 1.5% declaring that having a non-British neighbor would be very bad to them and over 25% would feel happy to have such neighbors. However, most of the society have an ambivalent or undecided approach and thus can be manipulated by the slogans and xenophobic discourse. During the Brexit referendum parts of political elites pushed this uncertain part of the society towards more nationalistic arguments and interpretations which was noticed by most of the Polish immigrants.

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The Happy End for (Some) Romani Migrant Children

It is generally acknowledged that in the last thirty years, migration policy and multiculturalism in the public policies have been on the list of the most discussed and polarising topics in the British public sphere. Negatively constructed identity of Slovak/East European Romani migrants as “the country´s social welfare system abusers“ and “the non-integrateable community members“ had its lion share in a growing anti-immigration and anti-multiculturalist sentiment in the mainstream population and, ultimately, the United Kingdom´s leaving the EU.

In late 2019, a short-term field research on social adaptation of the emigrated Roma in the UK was conducted by Klara Kohoutová, Veronika Pastrnáková and Ondrej Ficeri of the Social Science Institute, Slovak Academy of Science, in the counties of South York and Derby. They went specifically to the towns with ethnically heterogeneous neighbourhoods and high concentration of the immigrated Romani, like Sheffield – Page Hall, Rotherham – East Wood, Derby – Normanton. The results were presented and discussed at a webinar and are in line with all previous findings in the aggregate. In this post, however, I would like to focus on a positive example, which contradicts the statistics and prevailing media narrative.

It is a sad fact that in Slovak education system thousands of Romani children fail a grade every year. What´s more, this usually happens more than once during their school attendance so eventually, there are youngsters leaving school after 6th or 7th grade, having already become virtually unemployable and facing very weak future prospects in general. 

In the UK, instead of forcing kids to repeat a year – which is always humiliating and deprives them not only of time, but also of classmates, they let even the weakest pupils move forward while providing extra support. So, the most important lesson (some) Romani children (can) learn in British schools (if they are lucky enough to have parents who send them there while working in the UK) is belief in their own abilities. For the first time they (may) hear from a respected authority they can “become anything they want to if they try hard enough” – and they may really do as the authority means it and even takes action to help them make it happen.

Milan Popík from Pavlovce nad Uhom, East Slovakia, is 21 years old. He works at Doncaster airport as a customs officer and wants to become a detective, so he also studies criminology at the University of Sheffield. His parents migrated to the UK when he was 4 years old. Both of them worked hard and managed to set a good example to their son. This is what Milan says about his British teachers, whom he regards as a sort of “deus ex machina” having caused his success:

“The pupil´s future depends on the teacher, on the way they treat them. If the teacher shows support and love to the kid, if they show him or her that they do have a chance to achieve something in life, the kid can do great things. In England, teachers constantly motivate kids, force them to move forward, never just leave them alone. Contrarily, here in Slovakia teachers are sometimes relieved if (Romani) kids do not turn up because they do not listen and disrupt the classes. In England, it is different – the teachers really want each kid to come to schools every day to be constantly improving their reading and writing skills, so that later they have a chance to change their life.“

Na Slovensku sme považovaní za hlúpych cigáňov. V Anglicku vraj rasizmus  nie je | Čumil

Of course, in regard to many Slovak teachers, his generalisations are neither fair nor true – but they probably are in regard to the prevailing approach of the Slovak officials and society to the Romani pupils (note: I am stating the fact regardless the reasons).

Milan is a sort of celebrity and a positive role model in his native village. He is aware how important it is for the local children to see his success – although the sad point is all of them consider such success impossible in Slovakia, which results in boosted chances of their future emigration. Sure, the issues of generational poverty, racism and historically-embedded prejudice are far too complex to be dealt with in this post, and they also occur in the UK (just remember the recent amount of hate received by the unfortunate dark-skinned penalty kicker in the lost final EC match).

Nevertheless, despite all Brexit implications and generally negative reputation of the Romani immigrants in the UK, there are still some of them using the opportunity to prove themselves against all odds.

Sources: https://www.sav.sk/index.php?doc=services-news&source_no=20&news_no=8846, https://dennikn.sk/2453597/pracuje-ako-colnik-na-anglickom-letisku-chce-byt-detektivom-neviem-ci-by-som-na-slovensku-vobec-dokoncil-skolu-video/?ref=tema