Brexit FAQs

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Universities UK is currently working through the ramifications of the leave vote 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 24 March 2017​

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

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

  3. Will EU 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 countries?

Will EU 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 students, including those that start courses this academic year (2016–17). This has been confirmed in a statement (27 June 2016) from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science. 

  • It has also been confirmed in separate statements from across all UK nations (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) that current university students from the EU and those applying to courses starting in 2017–18 will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

  • For students looking to study in Scotland, this guarantee has been extended to those enrolling for 2018–19.

  • UUK is calling for similar reassurances to EU students who want to apply for courses across the UK starting in the 2018–19 and 2019–20 academic years. We are also calling on them to affirm that it is a priority for government to ensure that future academic and student mobility is not impeded by unnecessary bureaucracy regardless of the immigration status of EU nationals after the UK has left the EU.

  • The longer-term implications for EU students who want to apply to study in the UK after the UK has left the EU will depend on the outcome of the negotiations and what kind of future relationship is agreed between the UK and the EU. 

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

  • There will be no change to the tuition fee status of current EU students attending UK universities or those applying to courses at UK universities starting in 2017–18. For students looking to study in Scotland, this guarantee has been extended to those enrolling for 2018–19.

  • It is important to remember that the UK will not leave the EU overnight – the negotiation process is expected to take up to two years once the UK triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on 29 March 2017, formally signalling its intent to leave the EU meaning the UK is likely to leave the EU in 2019.

  • It has been confirmed in government statements from across all UK nations that current EU 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.

  • It has also been confirmed that EU students applying for an undergraduate course at a UK university, starting this year (2016–17) or next year (2017–18), will pay the same fees as UK students (free tuition in the case of Scotland) for the full duration of their course. This will be the case even if their course finishes after the UK has left the EU. This builds on earlier guarantees, confirming that current EU students, including those that started this academic year, will pay the same fees for the duration of their course. For students looking to study in Scotland, this guarantee has been extended to those enrolling for 2018–19.

  • UUK is calling for similar reassurances to also guarantee that EU students beginning courses across the UK in the 2018–19 and 2019–20 academic years will pay the same fees as UK students for the duration of their courses. 

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

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

Existing EU students, including those that joined in the 2016–17 academic year

  • Separate statements from across all UK nations confirm that current EU students, including 2016–17 entrants, will remain eligible to receive loans and grants to fund their studies for the duration of their courses.

  • EU 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. This has been confirmed by the Student Loans Company for England, and by Universities Wales for Wales. 

  • Under EU law, students from EU member states applying for undergraduate degrees at Scottish universities are currently eligible for free tuition. For EU students attending a university in Scotland, the Scottish government and Universities Scotland have confirmed that there has been no change in current funding arrangements. This means that eligible EU students already studying in Scotland, including those that commenced their studies the current academic year (2016–17) will continue to benefit from free tuition 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, including those that started courses last autumn (in the 2016–17 academic year) will continue to receive these loans and grants until they finish their course.

EU students applying for a course starting in 2017–18

  • In England: The Government has guaranteed that EU students applying to start a course in England in 2017–18 will continue to be eligible for tuition fee loans and for 'home' fee status for the duration of their study.

  • In Wales: The Education Secretary has announced that EU nationals who intend to begin studying in the academic year 2017–18 will also continue to receive financial support.

  • It has also been confirmed in a statement from the Scottish Government that students starting courses in 2017 at universities in Scotland will continue to receive free tuition and other support for the full duration of their course.

  • Similar guarantees have been announced for EU students applying to universities in Northern Ireland. Student Finance Northern Ireland has said that EU nationals currently in higher education and those who intend to begin studying from 2017 who are assessed as eligible to receive loans and/or grants, will continue to receive these until they finish their course. 

EU students applying for a course starting in 2018–19

  • For students looking to study in Scotland, the above guarantee has been extended to those enrolling for 2018–19. UUK is now calling on the UK government to extend the existing guarantee for EU students to include those beginning courses in the 2018–19 and 2019–20 academic years.

EU students applying for a PhD starting in 2017-18

  • It has been confirmed in a statement from Jo Johnson MP that EU nationals starting courses in the next academic year (2017-18) will continue to be eligible for Research Council PhD studentships to help fund their studies for the full duration of their course. This will be the case even if the course finishes after the UK has left the European Union.

  • This statement builds on the announcement from the Department for Education in October 2016 that EU nationals applying for undergraduate and masters' courses starting in academic year 2017 to 2018 will remain eligible for student loans and grants for the duration of their courses.

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 2019.

  • In the longer term, Universities UK is asking the government to secure continued UK participation in  this valuable exchange programme post-Brexit.

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)?

  • Until the process of exit negotiations has concluded, the UK will remain a member of the EU, and so its universities and researchers will continue to be eligible to bid and apply for funding through Horizon 2020 and the ESIF programme. The exit negotiations could take up to two years following the UK government’s triggering of Article 50 on 29 March 2017.

  • 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. UUK responded to the announcement in a statement published on the same day.

  • On 3 October 2016, the Treasury extended its 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.

  • Shortly after the EU referendum result it was confirmed by Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science and the EU commissioner for research and innovation that there would be no change to the UK university sector's ability to participate in EU research and innovation programmes while the UK is still a member of the EU. 

  • 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.

  • 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 countries?

  • The UK government has confirmed that there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK as a result of the referendum, and that it 'recognises and values the important contribution made by EU and other non-UK citizens who work, study and live in the UK'.

  • The UK remains a member of the EU for the time being and the government has 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.

  • In terms of recruiting EU staff in the longer term, any changes in circumstances will depend on the kind of relationship the UK negotiates with the EU. However, UUK continues to highlight to the government the value of all EU university staff, including researchers, scientists, academics and others, and, as a priority, is urging the UK government to guarantee the right to reside and work in the UK post-exit for EU nationals that are currently working in the university sector and their dependents. This should include confirmation of their access to public services. We are urging the government to take this step now, to provide certainty for these hugely valued individuals. 

  • UUK is also calling on the UK government to make a clear and unequivocal statement that EU nationals currently living in the UK are welcome here, and that any changes to immigration status will only apply to new entrants to the UK after the UK has left the EU. UUK has joined a broad coalition of major organisations and prominent politicians who are calling for this commitment to be made.

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

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

  • The EU referendum outcome will not lead to any immediate change to the immigration status of current EU students or those about to start a course in the coming academic year (2016–17). This has been confirmed in a statement (27 June) from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science. 

  • The longer-term implications for EU students who want to apply to study in the UK will depend on the outcome of negotiations and what kind of relationship the UK agrees with the EU. 

  • UUK is urgently calling on the UK government to provide reassurances about the immigration status of existing EU students and staff following the UK's exit from the EU. It is also calling on them to affirm that it is a priority for government to ensure that future academic and student mobility is not impeded by unnecessary bureaucracy regardless of the immigration status of EU nationals.

Will tuition fees rise for EU students studying at UK universities as a result of Brexit?

  • There will be no immediate change to the tuition fees paid by current EU students attending UK universities.

  • It is important to remember that the UK will not leave the EU overnight – the negotiation process is expected to take up to two years, and the EU has indicated that this process will not begin until the UK triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, formally signalling its intent to leave the EU. EU students are entitled to pay the same fees as UK students while the UK remains a member of the EU.

  • UUK is calling on the UK government to guarantee that EU students beginning courses this autumn in 2017–18 and 2018–19 academic years will pay the same fees as UK students for the duration of their courses. This would provide assurances to EU students beginning courses that start when the UK is still a member of the EU, but are likely to finish after the UK's exit.  

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

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

  • Separate statements from across all UK nations confirm that current EU students, and 2016–17 entrants, will be eligible to receive loans and grants to fund their studies for the duration of their courses.

  • EU 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, or are about to start this coming year. This has been confirmed by the Student Loans Company for England, and by Universities Wales for Wales. 

  • Under EU law, students from EU member states applying for undergraduate degrees at Scottish universities are currently eligible for free tuition. For EU students attending a university in Scotland, the Scottish government and Universities Scotland have confirmed that there has been no change in current funding arrangements and that eligible EU students already studying in Scotland or commencing their studies in the coming months will continue to benefit from free tuition and, for those who meet the residency requirement, associated living cost support.

  • The Northern Irish government has issued a statement confirming that EU nationals who are currently receiving student loans from Student Finance Northern Ireland and EU nationals who intend to begin studying from autumn 2016 will continue to receive these loans and grants until they finish their course. This includes grants and loans to cover tuition fees (for those resident in the EEA for three years), loans and grants for maintenance (limited to those resident in the UK for at least three years), and some other grants and allowances.

  • UUK is calling on the UK government to guarantee that EU students beginning courses in 2017–18 and 2018–19 academic years will have the same access to tuition fee loans for the duration of their courses. This would be a short-term transitional measure for students starting ahead of the date of the UK exit from the EU.

What about students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange programme?

  • Students from UK universities currently overseas on an Erasmus+ placement, and those considering applying to participate in Erasmus+ in academic year 2016–17, will not be affected by the referendum result. 

  • 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.

  • In the longer term, Universities UK will be urging the government to seek assurances from the EU that the UK can continue to access this valuable exchange programme.

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)?

  • The UK government confirmed in a statement on 13 August 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. UUK responded to the announcement in a statement published on the same day.

  • It has also been announced that all European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) projects signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when they continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU. The Treasury has also said it will assess whether to guarantee funding for specific Structural and Investment Fund projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while we remain a member of the EU. 

  • Shortly after the EU referendum result it was confirmed by Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science and the EU commissioner for research and innovation that there would be no change to the UK university sector's ability to participate in EU research and innovation programmes while the UK is still a member of the EU. 

  • The long-term future of UK participation in European science programmes will be decided as part of the UK's exit negotiations. These talks are expected to take up to two years.

  • UUK will 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 countries?

  • The UK government has confirmed that there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK as a result of the referendum, and that it 'recognises and values the important contribution made by EU and other non-UK citizens who work, study and live in the UK'.

  • The UK remains a member of the EU for the time being and the government has 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.

  • In terms of recruiting EU staff in the longer term, any changes will depend on the kind of relationship the UK negotiates with the EU. However, UUK is committed to highlighting the value of all EU staff, including researchers, scientists and academics, and is urging the UK government to guarantee that those currently working at UK universities can continue to do so after the UK exits the EU.

  • UUK is also calling on the UK government to make a clear and unequivocal statement that EU nationals currently living in the UK are welcome here, and that any changes to immigration status will only apply to new entrants to the UK. UUK has joined a broad coalition of major organisations and prominent politicians who are calling for this commitment to be made.

  • Further information on the impact of Brexit on higher education employers is available from UCEA.

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