Brexit FAQs

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Universities UK is currently working through the implications of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union (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 21 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?

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

  7. What status will EU nationals have who arrive during the proposed implementation period?​


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 was confirmed in a ​ statement (27 June 2016) from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

  • In December 2017, the UK and EU published a joint report on phase one of the UK’s exit negotiations. On the 15 December, the European Council voted that there had been enough progress and the negotiations would move onto the second phase in 2018. As part of this report, it was stated that a common understanding has been reached on securing the residency rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK. 

  • EU nationals already living in the UK will be able to apply for ‘settled status’ when the applications portal opens, likely towards the end of 2018, and will remain open for at least two years. 

  • Therefore, students who arrive in the UK before this cut-off point in March 2019, should be able to stay and qualify for settled status if they so wish.

     
  • The UK is not expected to withdraw from the EU until 2019, after which the immigration rules affecting 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 thereafte​
  • 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 starting 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 (i.e. from 2019–20 academic year onwards) 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 there has been no change in the eligibility requirements for current EU/EEA students at UK to receive loans and/or 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, Northern Ireland and Wales who are eligible under current rules to receive loans and grants from their respective student finance organisations will continue to do so for the duration of their course, even if it only ends after the UK has left the EU. The guarantee for 2018–19 entrants has been confirmed in England, Wales and for Northern Ireland.

  • 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.​


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.

  • Following the UK-EU phase one agreement on the 15 December, the UK will be able to participate in Erasmus+ until the end of the programme in 2020. This should allow staff and students to complete mobility periods, and receive funding, through the Erasmus+ programme until the end of the academic year 2020/21.

  • UUK continues to highlight the benefits of the programme and will be urging the UK government to push for access onto the Erasmus+ successor programme, which will commence in 2021.


Will the UK continue to have access to EU funding for research and innovation?

  • The UK will remain in the Horizon 2020 research programme and other EU funding programmes that are part of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) until the end of 2020, as confirmed by the UK-EU phase one agreement. This will allow for UK participants to continue to apply and use EU programmes until the end of its current inception.

  • This includes long-term projects that are to continue after Horizon 2020 has finished. The report published jointly by the UK and the EU on the phase one agreement stated that the UK's "eligibility to apply to participate in Union programmes and Union funding for UK participants and projects will be unaffected by the UK's withdrawal from the Union for the entire lifetime of such projects". In addition, the paper states that the UK could "agree to simplified procedures so as to avoid unnecessary administrative burdens extending well beyond the end of the current multiannual financial framework" ensuring that administration for this eventuality is being investigated.

  • UUK is urging the government to confirm the UK's access to European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are included in the phase one agreement as well as working to secure future association onto the successor programme, Framework Programme 9 and is contributing actively to its design. ​


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 set 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 December 2017, the UK and the EU published a joint report on the agreement of phase one of the negotiations on the UK's exit from the EU. On the 15 December, the European Council voted that there had been enough progress and the negotiations would move onto the second phase in the new year. As part of this report, it was stated that a common understanding has been reached on securing the residency rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK.​

  • The cut-off arrival point for EU nationals to be covered by the agreement reached will be the date that the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. Additionally, EU nationals living in the UK will be able to apply for ‘settled status’ when the applications portal opens, likely towards the end of 2018, and will remain open for at least two years.​​

  • Those EU/EEA nationals with permanent residence (PR) will be able to convert their PR into a new settled status free of charge subject only to verification of identity, a criminality and security check and proof of ongoing residence.

  • Those with settled status will be able to leave the UK for up to five years without losing their status, a shift from the two years indicated previously that could disadvantage researchers undertaking long-term mobility.

  • In terms of recruiting EU/EEA staff in the longer term, any changes in immigration requirements 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 2017, 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 education employers is available from UCEA. ​



What status will EU nationals have who arrive during the proposed implementation period?

  • The UK government has proposed arrangements for how EU citizens arriving in the UK during the implementation period. After the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, there will be an implementation period of around two years during which EU citizens and their family members will be free to live, work and study in the UK as they do now. This will also be the case for UK nationals moving to the EU during this period.

  • EU citizens who arrive during this post-Brexit period will have to register if they wish to stay in the UK for longer than three months. The registration system will be straightforward and streamlined and there will be an additional three month window for applications after the implementation period to ensure there is no cliff edge.

  • Once they have been continuously and lawfully lived in the UK for five years they will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Further information can be found here​.


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