Brexit FAQs

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Universities UK is currently working through the implications of the UK's withdrawal from the EU for the higher education sector. We will continue to keep members and all our stakeholders informed as events develop. Please check this page regularly for updates. ​​

Updated 1​ December​​ 2017​

  1. Will EU/EEA students still be able to study at UK universities?

  2. Will tuition fees rise fo​r EU/EEA students studying at UK univers​ities as a result of Brexit?

  3. Will EU/EEA students continue to be eligible to receive loans and grants?

  4. What about students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange programme?

  5. Will the UK continue to have access to EU funding for research and innovation such as Horizon 2020 and European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs)?

  6. Will UK universities still be able to employ staff from other EU/EEA countries?

Will EU/EEA students still be able to study at UK universities?

  • The EU referendum outcome and the triggering of Article 50 will not lead to any immediate change to the immigration status of current EU/EEA students in the UK. This has been confirmed in a statement (27 June 2016) from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

  • The UK government has made clear that it wishes to ‘secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in other Member States’. The UK government has also indicated that the EU and the UK are close to reaching agreement on this matter.

  • The UK is not expected to withdraw from the EU until 2019, after which the immigration status of EU/EEA nationals coming to the UK could potentially change. The longer-term implications for EU/EEA students who want to apply to study in the UK after the UK has left the EU will depend on the kind of future relationship that is agreed and the immigration system that the UK puts in place for EU/EEA nationals thereafter.

  • UUK is calling on the government to ensure that future academic and student mobility is not impeded by unnecessary bureaucracy regardless of the immigration status of EU/EEA nationals after the UK has left the EU. ​

​​​Will tuition fees for EU/EEA students studying at UK universities change as a result of Brexit?​

  • There will be no change to the tuition fee status of current EU/EEA students attending UK universities or those applying for courses in 2018–19. This means that EU/EEA students studying at UK universities will pay the same fees as 'home' students for the full duration of their course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

  • The fees that EU/EEA students starting courses at UK universities after the UK has formally left the EU are required to pay will depend on what is agreed as part of the UK's exit negotiations.​

Will EU/EEA students continue to be eligible to receive loans and grants?

Existing EU/EEA students and those applying for courses in 2018–19

  • Separate statements from across all UK nations confirm that current EU/EEA students at UK universities remain eligible to receive loans and grants to fund their studies for the full duration of their course. The same will apply to those students who start in 2018–19.

  • EU/EEA students attending universities in England and Wales who are eligible under current rules to receive loans and grants from the Student Loans Company will continue to do so for the duration of courses they are currently enrolled on. The guarantee for 2018–19 entrants has been confirmed by the minister.

  • Under EU law, students from EU/EEA nationals are currently eligible for free tuition for undergraduate degrees in Scotland. The Scottish government and Universities Scotland have confirmed that there has been no change in current funding arrangements for EU/EEA students. This means that eligible EU/EEA students already studying in Scotland, including those that commenced their studies the current academic year, or those that are applying for 2018–19, will continue to benefit from free tuition for the full duration of their course and, for those who meet the residency requirement, associated living cost support.

  • In Northern Ireland, the government has issued a statement confirming that EU nationals who are currently receiving student loans from Student Finance Northern Ireland and those applying for 2018–19 will continue to receive loans and grants until they finish their course.​ 

What about students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange programme?

  • Students from UK universities currently participating in Erasmus+, including those taking part this academic year, will not be affected by the referendum result or the triggering of Article 50.

  • The European Commission has confirmed that EU law continues to apply to the full in the UK until it is no longer a member. This therefore also applies to the projects financed through the Erasmus+ programme. The UK is not expected to leave the EU until March 2019.

  • The UK government has confirmed that it will underwrite grant agreements for successful Erasmus+ bids submitted while the UK is still a Member State, even if they are not approved until after we leave, and/or payments continue beyond the point of exit. This means that UK organisations can prepare for participation as usual right up until the point of exit in March 2019.

  • The government have assured us that they are working with the National Agency on the practical details of implementing this so that in the unfortunate event that the UK were unable to participate on the Erasmus+ programme, the underwrite will still stand.

  • This new underwrite will allow universities and students prepare to undertake mobility periods planned for the 2018–19 and 2019–20 academic years as normal. 

  • The National Agency for Erasmus+ in the UK supports continued full membership of the programme for the UK through to 2020. Universities UK is also asking the government to secure continued UK participation. ​

Will the UK continue to have access to EU funding for research and innovation such as Horizon 2020 and European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs)?

  • As long as the UK remains a member of the EU, its universities and researchers will continue to be eligible to bid and apply for funding through Horizon 2020 and the ESIF programme.

  • In many cases, funds awarded to UK universities through these programmes in the months ahead will extend beyond the likely date of Brexit. However, the UK government confirmed in a statement on 13 August 2016 that European Commission research grants, including Horizon 2020 programme grants, awarded while the UK is still a member of the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury. This will be the case even when the project continues beyond the UK's departure from the EU.

  • On 18 July 2017, the minister for universities and science provided further clarification on the Treasury underwrite of Horizon 2020 funding. He confirmed that all applications submitted before departure are covered, even where applications have yet to be approved for funding or where there is no signed grant agreement at the point of departure. He also confirmed that applications that are subject to a multi-stage review process will be covered if successful. Further details on the specifics of the UK government's underwrite guarantee can be found on the UKRO website.

  • On 3 October 2016, the Treasury issued a guarantee for European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), confirming funding will now be guaranteed for projects signed up until the point that the UK leaves the EU. This builds on the previous announcement in August in which the Government committed to guaranteeing projects signed before the Autumn Statement.

  • On 27 June 2017, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced in a statement that it would commit to funding its ‘fair share’ of the running for the Joint European Torus (JET) project, which is based at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire. This guarantee is subject to the European Commission agreeing to extend the UK’s contract to host this facility beyond 2018.

  • The long-term future of UK participation in European programmes will be decided as part of the UK's exit negotiations. These talks are expected to take up to two years. In September 2017, the UK government published a position paper on collaboration with the EU on science and innovation. This paper sets out the government’s ambitions for an “ambitious science and innovation agreement with the EU”.

  • UUK is urging the government to secure continued UK participation in Horizon 2020 for the duration of the programme, to include the period after the UK leaves the EU, and we are continuing to make the case to government of the importance and impact of our strong research collaboration with European partners, highlighting how EU programmes play a central role in supporting this. ​​

Will UK universities still be able to employ staff from other EU/EEA countries?

  • Following the triggering of Article 50, the UK government has updated its information for European Union nationals living in the UK. It confirms that there will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU. The government has also confirmed that there will be no immediate changes to UK visa policies for university staff currently in, or contemplating coming to, the UK from the EU/EEA.

  • On June 26th 2017 the UK government published Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK and UK Nationals Living in the EU. This sets out its proposed offer for EU nationals in the UK. The proposals will be the subject of negotiations with the EU27 and may therefore change. On the same date, the government published updated advice to EU nationals in the UK. The UK government has made clear that is wishes to ‘secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in other Member States’.

  • In terms of recruiting EU/EEA staff in the longer term, any changes in circumstances will depend on the kind of relationship the UK negotiates with the EU and the migration system that is established after withdrawal. On 4 August, the Migration Advisory Committee launched a call for evidence and briefing note on the future migration system for EU/EEA nationals.

  • UUK continues to highlight to the government the value of all EU/EEA university staff, and has joined a broad coalition of major organisations and prominent politicians who are calling for a clear commitment to secure the rights and status of EU/EEA nationals living in the UK before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Longer term, we are calling for a reformed, post-Brexit immigration policy that encourages talented international students and university staff to choose to come to the UK.​​

  • Further information on the impact of Brexit on higher edu​cation employers is available from UCEA. ​​​

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