Factsheet: Brexit & International Students

As the UK prepares to begin leaving the EU in March 2019, we understand there is confusion from students wishing...

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. There was a popular referendum in 2016, with the Prime Minister then triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows a member state to remove itself from the EU. This was triggered in March 2017, and is followed by a two-year negotiation period, before the UK officially leaves the EU on 29th March 2019. A further transition period has then been negotiated between the EU and the UK, lasting from 29th march 2019 through to 31st December 2020. A number of uncertainties remain regarding decisions from 2021, but we will continue to update this page as more information is released and decisions reached.

I want to apply to UK universities to start in 2019- what fees will I pay? In Scotland, EU students are eligible to apply for free tuition, as the Scottish government has extended the free tuition arrangement to extend past the March 2019 Brexit date. As of 29th May 2018, the precise fees arrangements for students applying to start university studies in 2019 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are yet to be confirmed.

I am starting my studies in 2018, 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 2018 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? Whilst the process of leaving the EU starts in March 2019, there is a transitional period until 31st December 2020, where there will be little change to the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. The government have decreed that those living in the UK continuously for five years before the end of the transition period will be allowed to apply for ‘settled status’, and those who arrive by this point but who will not have been living in the UK for 5 years by the 31st December 2020 will be allowed to remain in the UK until they reach the 5-year mark, when they too will be allowed to apply for ‘settled status’. However, those who do not meet the 5-year threshold by the end of 2020 will have to apply for a temporary residence permit in order to do so. Further governmental advice here, and case studies here.

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 to 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 this funding can expect to remain eligible for the 2018/19 academic year, as can those students commencing study in 2018. However, for those applying for 2019/20 entry, or continuing study into this year, the precise status remains unclear.

My research is part-funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. What does Brexit mean for my funding?. The UK will remain in the Horizon 2020 programme until the end the programme in 2020, including the ongoing funding of projects which will conclude after the programme’s end date.

I am planning to study abroad through Erasmus, will I still be able to? The Erasmus programme in its current incarnation runs until the end of the academic year 2019/20, and together with the UK government, have negotiated the UK’s ongoing participation until this stage. For students commencing or continuing their studies in the academic years 2018/19 or 2019/20, Erasmus participation should be unchanged. It is hoped but not guaranteed that the UK will continue to participate in the programme’s next incarnation.

I am a UK citizen, looking to go to university in an EU state in 2019. How will Brexit affect my applications? The rights of UK citizens in EU countries have been guaranteed until the UK leave the EU, and further deals with specific countries have been and are being negotiated with regards to the ongoing freedom of UK citizens while abroad. See here for the most up-to-date information, and also take heart in the enormous growth of English-taught courses in many countries across the EU, as institutions prepare to welcome students from across the world who wish to complete their university studies in English.