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. ​​

  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?



When will the UK leave the European Union?

  • The UK government and the EU Council have agreed to an extension of Article 50 until 31 January 2020. This effectively means that 31 January 2020 is now the deadline for the UK to exit the European Union. During this extension, the United Kingdom will remain a member state with full rights and obligations.   If no deal is passed and ratified, the UK will leave the EU without a deal on 31 January 2020.

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

  • In the event that a deal is reached between the UK and the EU, it is envisaged that there will be no change to the immigration status of EU students who are already here or who arrive before the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020. This was confirmed in the government's Statement of Intent on the EU Settlement Scheme

  • If a deal between the UK and the EU is reached, EU nationals who already live in the UK, or who arrive by 31 December 2020, will be able to apply for the Settlement Scheme. They will be able to be granted either settled status or pre-settled status

  • The settled status will enable EU nationals having lived continuously in the UK for at least five years to live, work and study in the UK for as long as they like. EU nationals having lived in the UK for less than five years will be able to apply for pre-settled status, which will allow them to meet the five-year residency requirement needed to apply for settled status. Those eligible can apply here.

  • The government has published a policy paper on citizens' rights in the event of a no deal. It confirms that in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU, the EU Settlement Scheme will continue to be implemented, enabling EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by exit day to secure their status and continue to be able to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis as they do now. The Scheme opened on 30 March 2019.

  • In a no-deal scenario,  the planned application deadline will be brought forward to 31 December 2020. Only EU citizens living in the UK by 31 January 2020 will be able to apply for the Settlement Scheme.

  • The government has reached agreements with governments of EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland about the rights of their citizens. These are broadly in line with those negotiated for EU students and citizens; EEA nationals will be able to guarantee their rights in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme.

  • Even in a no-deal scenario, EU citizens and their family members will be able to move to the UK and live, study, work and access benefits and services as they do now.

  • In a no deal scenario, EU citizens and their close family members who move to the UK after Brexit and wish to stay beyond 2020 will need to apply for a UK immigration status granting them permission to stay. After Brexit, the Home Office will open a new voluntary immigration scheme – the European temporary leave to remain (Euro TLR) Scheme – to provide a route to apply for this immigration status. Applications will involve a simple online process and identity, security and criminality checks. Successful applicants to the Euro TLR scheme will be granted a period of 36 months' leave to remain in the UK, running from the date the leave is granted.

  • The European Temporary Leave to Remain system may be problematic for EU students wishing to undertake a course of more than 3 years in length (such as students intending to study towards an undergraduate degree in Scotland or many PhD students), as they would have to commit to their course of study without the guarantee that they will be granted a visa, or without knowing the conditions of that visa under the future immigration system.  

  • Further information on what Brexit may mean for EU students is available here. Information on EEA and Swiss students is available here.

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

  • Governments across the UK have confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 and in 2020–21 will still be eligible for home fee status and for financial support as per existing rules. 
  • In England, Chris Skidmore MP, the Universities Minister, has confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 and in 2020–21 at an English higher education institution will remain eligible for home status even in a no-deal scenario. 

  • The Welsh government has confirmed that the same EU student fee status and financial support arrangements will continue in 2019–20 and in 2020–2021.

  • Scotland has confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 and in 2020-21 will be eligible for free tuition, even in a no-deal scenario.

  • For Northern Ireland, the government has also confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 or 2020–2021 will be eligible for home fee status even in a no-deal scenario.

  • The fee status of EU and EEA students starting courses at UK universities from 2021–22 has not yet been determined by UK governments.

  • Further information on what Brexit may mean for EU students is available here. Information on EEA and Swiss students is available here.

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

  • Governments across the UK have confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 and in 2020–21 will still be eligible for home fee status and for financial support as per existing rules. 

  • In England, Chris Skidmore MP, the Universities Minister, has confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 and in 2020–21 at an English higher education institution will remain eligible for financial support from Student Finance England for the entire duration of their course, even in a no-deal scenario.

  • The Welsh government has confirmed that the same EU student fee status and financial support arrangements will continue in 2019–20 and in 2020–2021.

  • The Scottish government and Universities Scotland have confirmed that there has been no change in current funding arrangements for EU students. This means that eligible EU students already studying in Scotland, including those that commenced their studies the current academic year, or those that are applying for 2019-20 and 2020-21, 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.

  • For Northern Ireland, it has been confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019–20 or 2020–2021 will be eligible for the financial support associated with home fee status, even in a no-deal scenario.

  • The government has announced that "EU, EEA EFTA and Swiss nationals within scope of the citizens' rights EU Settlement Scheme, and Irish nationals, will continue to be eligible for student finance support on broadly the same terms as now".


What about students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange programme?

  • If a deal passes, the UK will continue to participate in Erasmus+ until the end of the programme in 2020. This would allow staff and students to complete mobility periods, and receive funding, through the Erasmus+ programme until the end of the academic year 2020-21.

  • The government has agreed to underwrite the payment of awards to all successful UK grants to the Erasmus+ programme signed before exit day in the event of a no-deal scenario. The government has launched its Grants Management Portal and has provided further technical guidance on accessing the UK government underwrite guarantee. This will allow funding for the mobility of outbound UK students to continue but will not extend to EU students wishing to study in the UK.

  • In the event of a no deal, the European Commission has proposed a regulation to underwrite the grants of both UK and EU students participating in Erasmus+ who have already begun their mobilities prior to the date exit. Therefore, EU students currently on an Erasmus+ placement at a UK university (and vice-versa) will not be affected by the outcome of the negotiations and will be able to complete their placement without disruption.

  • EHIC access for both UK and EU students may cease in a no-deal scenario. The UK government has confirmed they will cover the cost of healthcare for UK students who begin their courses in the EU ahead of 31 January 2020 exit date, and for the full duration of their courses. Beyond this, the government aims to establish reciprocal healthcare arrangements with each EU member state valid until 31 December 2020 in a no-deal. EU students commencing courses after exit date, therefore, will be subject to the reciprocal arrangements between the UK and the country of origin and may require third party cover.

  • For EU students commencing courses in the UK before the date of exit, the UK government has confirmed they will be able to access 'needs arising treatment' through the NHS.

  • If reciprocal healthcare arrangements are not in place by the 31st October 2019 the UK government has stated it will provide funding for healthcare for UK nationals in the EU27 for a period of 6-months after exit.

  • The Swiss Ministry (SERI) and the Swiss Federal Council have announced their commitment to continue mobility between Switzerland and the UK (under the current SEMP scheme) for the academic years 2019–20 even in the case of a 'no deal'. For the academic year 2020-21, this measure is contingent on changes to legislation by the Federal Council. In the case of a 'deal', SERI has also launched a revision of its Federal Act on International Cooperation in Education, Professional Education and Training, Youth Affairs and Mobility which would create scope for funding mobility between the UK and Switzerland and which would commence at the end of the UK-EU transition period.

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

  • In the event that a deal between the UK and the EU is reached, 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. This will allow for UK participants to continue to apply for and receive Horizon 2020 funding for the full duration of successful projects. UK recipients would have to continue to comply with EU financial reporting and auditing requirements.

  • In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK government already guaranteed in August 2016 to underwrite successful Horizon 2020 grant applications for the full duration of projects. In July 2018, it was announced that this guarantee would be extended to cover all successful Horizon 2020 projects until the end of the programme, provided that the UK is eligible to participate as a third country. This means that single-beneficiary Horizon 2020 grants, including the European Research Council (ERC) and parts of the Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions (MSCA), are not covered by this guarantee. UUK is urgently seeking confirmation from the UK government that domestic alternatives to ERC and MSCA funding would be put in place in a no-deal scenario.

  • In September 2018, UKRI launched an online portal for UK-based recipients of Horizon 2020 funding to log details of their grants in order to implement the underwrite guarantee, should it be required. UUK is encouraging BEIS and UKRI to publish further information about how the underwrite would be implemented and what additional administrative requirements would be places on universities.

  • In August 2019, the UK government announced that any Horizon 2020 funding applications which are submitted before the UK leaves the EU but which are deemed ineligible after the UK has left will be evaluated and funded by UKRI. This will cover applications to the European Research Council, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and the SME Instrument.

  • The European Commission has proposed a new regulation on UK participation in the 2019 EU budget in a no-deal scenario. Provided that the UK Government pays its full contribution to the 2019 EU budget, it states that UK entities remain eligible for 'calls, tenders, contests or any other procedure which may lead to financing from the Union's budget' in until the end of 2019 (with some limited exceptions relating to security and actions involving the European Investment Bank or the European Investment Fund). It also provides that the European Commission would continue to make payments to UK entities already in receipt of EU funding, and that the UK would continue to contribute towards to minimum eligibility criteria.

  • This appears to cover all EU funding programmes, including Horizon 2020, meaning that the UK would remain eligible for European Research Council and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions funding until the end of 2019 if the government accepts this offer.

  • UUK continues to lobby for full association for the next framework programme, Horizon Europe, which is due to start on 1 January 2021. The proposal for this programme was published by the European Commission in June 2018, and leaves open the possibility of full UK participation as an associated country.


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

  • Yes. In the event that a deal is reached between the UK and the EU, there will be no change to the immigration status of EU staff who are already here or who arrive before the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020. This was confirmed in the government's Statement of Intent on the EU Settlement Scheme. EU nationals who already live in the UK, or who arrive by 31 December 2020, will be able to apply for 'settled status'. This will enable EU citizens to live, work and study in the UK for as long as they like, with the ability to leave the UK for up to five years without endangering their settled status. The Settlement Scheme opened in March 2019. Those eligible can apply here.

  • EU citizens who have already been in the UK for five years and can evidence that will be granted settled status. EU citizens who have lived in the UK for less than five years will be granted pre-settled status until they reach the five-year residency requirement. Those EU/EEA nationals with permanent residence will be able to convert their permanent residence status into the new settled status free of charge, subject only to verification of identity, a criminality and security check and proof of ongoing residence.

  • The government has published a policy paper on citizens' rights in the event of a no deal. It confirms that even if no deal between the UK and the EU is reached, the EU Settlement Scheme will continue to be implemented, enabling EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by exit day to secure their status and continue to be able to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis after UK's exit from the EU as they do now. The planned application deadline will be brought forward to 31 December 2020 in the event of no deal.

  • The government has reached agreements with governments of EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland about the rights of their citizens. These are broadly in line with those negotiated for EU students and citizens. Nationals of these countries will be able to guarantee their rights in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme. 

  • Even in a no-deal scenario EU citizens and their family members will be able to move to the UK and live, study, work and access benefits and services as they do now.

  • In a no deal scenario, EU citizens and their close family members who move to the UK after Brexit and wish to stay beyond 2020 will need to apply for a UK immigration status granting them permission to stay. After Brexit, the Home Office will open a new voluntary immigration scheme – the European temporary leave to remain (Euro TLR) Scheme – to provide a route to apply for this immigration status. Applications will involve a simple online process and identity, security and criminality checks. Successful applicants to the Euro TLR scheme will be granted a period of 36 months' leave to remain in the UK, running from the date the leave is granted.

  • The government has also issued guidance to employers on right to work checks in the event of a no deal. It states that there will be no change to the way EU, EEA and Swiss citizens prove their right to work until 1 January 2021.

​FAQ's for EU, EEA and Swiss students 

Read UUKi's frequently asked questions for: 


UUKi Brexit webinar series

UUKi and the FCO Science and Innovation Network (SIN) are joining forces to keep the UK and European higher education and research sectors up to date on the developments in Brexit in the year to come.You can watch the Brexit webinar series on youtube.


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