The spectre of Brexit is getting ever more real. But what does the UK’s departure from the European Union mean for students and graduates? Here at HelloGrads, we’ve put together a guide that can help both overseas and UK students understand what’s going on a little better.
Because everything keeps changing, and no one really knows what will happen after Brexit on March 29th or how we will leave (with or without a deal), we’re going to be continuously refreshing this page with the latest updates – so check back regularly for the latest news.
Fees and Finances
Education Secretary Damian Hinds has confirmed that students from the European Union starting courses in England in the 2019/20 academic year will continue to be eligible for what is called ‘home fee status’ – meaning they will be charged the same tuition fees as UK students. They will also be able to access financial support for the duration of their course.
Unfortunately, we are still in the dark regarding fees for EU and UK students who want to study abroad in the future.
The status of tuition fees hangs in the balance of a Brexit deal. Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland offer free access to higher education to students from EU member states (though no financial aid), while other countries offer EU students the same subsidised tuition fees or admin charges they charge their own nationals. Unless the UK attains a ‘Norway’ type Brexit deal and remains in the single market, then it’s likely that fees will apply for British students hoping to study in European countries.
Depending on the deal, fees will likely change after the 2019-2020 year. For UK students who want to study abroad, fees will vary from country to country. As for EU students who want to study at UK universities, it remains to be seen whether they will have to pay the same as UK students or the higher fees of students from overseas and outside the EU. A full list of current international fees can be found here.
The Government recommends that applications are submitted as normal for the upcoming deadlines for funding for both Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps. This will make sure that you can take part in the programmes, but only if a withdrawal agreement is in place.
In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the government guarantees to cover the payment of awards to UK applicants who want to study abroad. The guarantee commits to underwrite funding for the entire lifetime of the projects.
As for what happens after that, it remains to be seen. The Government is looking to strike a deal with the EU so these programmes can continue. If that doesn’t work, Plan B is to strike individual deals with EU member states. And Plan C is to get UK organisations to arrange their own bilateral arrangements with EU-based partners to enable their projects to continue.
Update August 2019
The BBC has just published an update that has data and a letter from the Scottish and Welsh education ministers claiming that: ‘leaving the EU without a deal or an arrangement covering the scheme will result in universities, colleges, and schools being ineligible to submit applications to participate in the final year of the current Erasmus+ programme in 2020.’
Also: ‘As we understand the position, the UK government has not, that we have seen, made or planned alternative domestic UK arrangements to ensure that the education sector can continue to access international mobility opportunities in place of those which will no longer be available due to the UK’s exclusion from Erasmus.’
It also makes the interesting observation that some countries which are not in the EU – including Iceland, Norway and Serbia – are still a part of the Erasmus scheme.
For more info on the implications of Brexit, see the Erasmus website.
In December, the Government published a white paper on UK’s future skills-based immigration system. It says that after Brexit the UK will retain ‘openness’ to students who wish to study in the UK, with no limits on numbers of ‘genuine’ international students. It also promises incentives to allow the ‘most talented’ graduates to stay and work.
It is looking at ways to offer a ‘light touch’ scheme to EU students wishing to study at UK universities, who will be expected to pay the same fees as other overseas students, while also looking at ways to tackle abuse of the system.
What are UK Universities saying?
In January, a joint letter to MPs from the heads of 150 UK universities expressed their concerns about a no-deal Brexit which, they said, is ‘one of the biggest threats’ they have ever faced. Their main concern is over no longer being able to access potentially billions of pounds worth of funding pots for research into areas like cancer and climate change. The Government has said it is committed to underwriting funding from existing EU research projects.
There are also concerns institutions will not be able to attract enough students, but the latest figures from UCAS show the number of students applying to study at UK universities has just increased for the first time in three years, with 561,420 people having applied to start a course in September 2019. This is the first increase since 2016 when 539,720 people applied. The figure was boosted by applicants from outside the EU.
Find out more:
Info for students:
Info for all:
Brexit – GOV.UK
Preparation for Brexit if you live in the UK, if you live in Europe, and for businesses