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Factsheet: Brexit & International Students

As the UK prepares to begin leaving the EU in March 2019, we understand there is confusion from students wishing to apply to UK universities about their fee status, eligibility for residence, and the general climate of the UK post-Brexit. We have compiled a number of queries with simple answers, which we hope will shed some light on the matter, but if you have specific queries you would like support with, please simply contact us.

What is Brexit, and when is it happening? 

‘Brexit’ refers to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union in a public referendum of June 2016. The subsequent Prime Minister, Theresa May, triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows a member state to remove itself from the EU, in March 2017. This was followed by a two-year negotiation period, which was extended to October 2019 after the UK parliament rejected the withdrawal agreement agreed between the UK and the EU. Currently the UK is due to leave the EU on 31st October 2019, although there are uncertainties regarding whether leaving without a deal will be approved by parliament. We will keep this page updated with developments as they happen.

I am an EU student who wants to apply to UK universities to start in 2020- what fees will I pay?

Currently, in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, EU students pay the same tuition fees as home students. This means that they pay up to £9,250 in England; £9,000 in Wales; and £4,275 in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, EU students can be pay up to £1,820 per year, but this is funded by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) if EU students meet the eligibility conditions. This has been guaranteed for all students starting a course in 2019 and 2020.

I am a UK student who wants to apply to EU universities to start in 2020 – what fees will I pay?

Currently, UK students are treated as home students at universities within the 27 other EU member states. UK students studying abroad for 1 year can also apply for an Erasmus+ grant, but those studying for their entire university degree in an EU country cannot. However, the British Council and Top Universities detail a list of scholarships available within the EU and elsewhere. If we leave with the current withdrawal agreement, this arrangement is likely to continue. If we leave without a deal, the UK government and EU have underwritten all arranged Erasmus+ payments that are already agreed. Please see the government’s advice on living in the EU after Brexit for more information.

I am starting my studies in 2019, what fees will I pay? Will these change? 

All EU students currently undertaking undergraduate degrees in the UK, or those due to start in September 2019 currently eligible for ‘home’ fees, will be permitted to continue studying under these fees, which will not change throughout your programme save for small annual increases in line with inflation.

What happens to my immigration status if I am studying while Britain leave the EU? 

If the UK leaves the EU with a withdrawal agreement in place, EU students arriving before 1st January 2021 will not require a student visa. However, if you plan to remain in the UK beyond 31st December 2020 (for example, if your course runs until 2021), you will need to apply to the EU’s settlement scheme. Conversely, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31st 2019, EU students will need to apply for a European Temporary Leave to Remain in order to stay in the UK longer than 3 months. EU students would fill in an online form and pay a small fee to be allowed to remain in the UK for a further 36 months. The UK government is yet to announce their plans for time periods longer than this, which will affect courses greater than 3 years in length (such as Medicine). For more information on this topic, please refer to the British Council.

What does this mean for me, as a non-EU citizen?

It is likely there will be no discernable changes for those students who would have previously been classed as ‘international’ applicants (ie non-EU/EEA/CH), and we understand there are no major changes planned for the Tier 4 (student) visa, although of course advise speaking with the British Council in your region for specific local advice. There is no set ratio between the number of students accepted paying ‘home’ rate fees and those paying international fees, so there should also be no shrinking of the places available to international students as the number of students eligible for home fee status shrinks.

Is there a hostile atmosphere to international students in the UK?

There is no evidence that the British public are unhappy at the number of international students in the UK. Indeed, in a poll conducted in 2016, just 6 months after the Brexit vote, 75% of people who responded said they would like the number of international students in the UK to stay the same or rise. Further, it seems that of those who do wish to lower general immigration into the UK, only a small proportion count international students as immigrants. UK universities are also working hard to ensure they remain globally-connected, welcoming places, and UK universities are certainly united in the aim of continuing to welcome students and researchers from around the world. Many of the UK’s most well-respected institutions have shown support for the WeAreInternational campaign, including Oxford, Cambridge, the Russell Group, and UKCISA. The campaign hopes to “continue to ensure our research knows no geographical boundaries and our students and staff from around the world are able to celebrate their own cultures and friendships.”

I am a recipient of Research Council scholarship finding, will this change? 

All EU students currently receiving or who will begin to receive this funding will remain eligible for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years.

My research is part-funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. What does Brexit mean for my funding?

The UK will continue to participate in the Horizon 2020 programme until its completion date in 2020 if we leave with a deal. If we leave without a deal, all bids successful before the UK leaves the EU will continue to be funded by the UK government until they are completed. This is part of the underwriting procedure announced by Phillip Hammond in August 2016.

I am planning to study abroad through Erasmus, will I still be able to? 

Participants applying for 2019/20 entry onto the Erasmus+ scheme should continue to apply as normal to the UK National Agency or European Commission’s Executive Agency. If the UK leaves the EU with a withdrawal agreement, Erasmus+ payments will continue until the end of the scheme in 2020. If the UK leaves without a deal, you may stop receiving EU funding, and so will need to claim against the HMG agreement. Therefore, you need to register for the HMG agreement as soon as possible. Please see the Gov.UK website for more information.