Once Brexit takes full effect, international students will be faced with a different reality.
Universities minister Michelle Donelan, has confirmed that due to the decision to leave the EU, students from the EU, other EEA, and Swiss nationals, and their family members, will be abiding by other eligibility rules, for courses starting in the academic year 2021/22. This, however, will not affect students starting courses in the academic year 2020/21.
EU, other EEA, and Swiss nationals will not be eligible for home fee status nor undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learning financial support from Student Finance England, for study programmes commencing in the academic year 2021/2022. The changes will also apply to Further Education funding for students aged 19+, as well as apprenticeships funding.
Nationals of EU member states, other EEA and Swiss who are benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement, or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement will not be impacted by the new changes. As a result of Brexit, there will be new rules in many areas, starting 1 January 2021.
Universities minister, Michelle Donelan, also admitted that the changes will not apply to certain other categories as well. The written statement reads:
“It will also not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK and Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals under the Common Travel Area arrangement.”
The minister recognizes and acknowledges the importance of EU, other EEA and Swiss students, staff and researchers and their contribution to UK universities. However, she claims that she is certain such changes, regarding the quality of the higher education sector in the UK, will not impact the continuity of this contribution.
As of this year, the start of the academic year 2020/2021 is within the Brexit transition period, which means that no changes will apply to students who start their courses in the UK during this period of time. According to the latest statistics, the complete number of international students in the UK coming from other EU countries stands at 143,025, out of which the majority come from Italy.
According to our UK higher education experts, the announcement was to be expected any time soon. However, the impact of the changes will be felt across the higher education sector, and international student numbers are expected to drop in the coming years. With lower fees and student loans, these students had the financial push they needed to apply in one of the many world-class universities in the UK.
In a letter directed to prospective international students, minister Donelan admitted that the UK will be flexible when it comes to application procedures and it is constantly monitoring travel and public health restrictions, to resume to normal as quickly as possible. The letter also mentions the new Graduate route, which will allow graduates to look for work in the UK, up to two years after graduation.
Currently, it is deemed ideal for nationals of the EU, other EEA, and Swiss to apply for 2020/2021 admission at UK universities and, this way, cease to be affected by the increase in tuition fees. Taking into account the current circumstances, UK universities are applying a flexible and supportive approach to international students who still have to go through lengthy admission procedures.