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?


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, there will be no change to the immigration status of EU students who are already here or who arrive before the end of the government's Brexit 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 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. A pilot of the scheme opened on 21 January 2019; those eligible can apply here. The Settlement Scheme will open fully on 30 March 2019 and the deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021. 

  • 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 29 March 2019 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 will be fully open by 30 March 2019 as planned. The planned application deadline will be brought forward to 31 December 2020 in the event of a 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; EEA nationals will be able to guarantee their rights in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme, once it opens fully on 30 March.

  • The government has confirmed that the EU Settlement Scheme will not apply to individuals arriving after 29 March 2019 in a no-deal scenario. Instead, EU and EEA individuals (including students) will be able to stay in the UK for up to three months, after which they will need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain. This will enable them to work, study and live in the UK for up to 3 years. Once their Leave to Remain expires, they will have to apply under the future immigration system (operational from 2021) for the relevant visa. The government's white paper on immigration, which sets out the general direction of the post-2021 immigration system, may be found here.

  • 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.  

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 (the first cycle post-Brexit) 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 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, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, in their Education and Skills section of the 'Preparing Wales' website. For Scotland and Northern Ireland, announcements for EU students have not been caveated as being subject to a Brexit deal being agreed.

  • The fee status of EU and EEA students starting courses at UK universities from 2020–21 has not yet been determined by UK governments.

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

  • The Minister for Universities Chris Skidmore MP has confirmed that EU students starting their course in 2019-20 at an English higher education institution will continue to be eligible for financial support from Student Finance England for the entire duration of their course, regardless of whether a deal is reached between the UK and the EU or not.

  • The Welsh Government has confirmed that the same EU student fee status and financial support arrangements will continue in 2019-20, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, in their Education and Skills section of the Preparing Wales website. 

  • The guarantee for 2019–20 entrants has been confirmed for Northern Ireland, and has not been caveated as subject to a Brexit deal being agreed.

  • Under EU law, EU 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 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, 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. These statements have not been caveated as subject to a Brexit deal being agreed.

  • 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 the withdrawal agreement passes, and a deal is reached, 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 29 March 2019 in the event of a no-deal scenario. 

  • In the event of a no deal, the European Commission has proposed a regulation to underwrite the grants of EU students participating in Erasmus+ at a UK university for the academic year 2018-19 until the end of their placements. Thus, EU students currently on an Erasmus+ placement at a UK university will not be affected by the outcome of the negotiations. To take effect, this regulation must be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council. It is also contingent on the UK accepting audits and controls, and may be contingent on the UK paying its full contribution into the EU budget.

  • If no deal is reached between the UK and the EU and if the UK is unsuccessful in negotiating access to the remainder of the programme, the UK will not receive funding under the 2019 Call for Applications as a programme country.

  • UUK continues to highlight the benefits of the programme and will be urging the UK government to commit to continue funding outward student mobility from 2019 onwards, as well as to push for access to the Erasmus+ successor programme, which will commence in 2021.

Will the UK continue to have access to EU funding for research and innovation?
  • In the event that an agreement 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, as per article 138 of the draft withdrawal agreement. 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.

  • The European Commission has recently 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 government's Brexit 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 will open fully in March 2019 and the deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021. A pilot of the scheme opened on 21 January; 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 29 March 2019 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 scheme will be fully open by 30 March 2019 as planned. 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 once it opens fully in March. The Political Declaration commits to negotiating mobility arrangements for researchers and scientists in a UK/EU trade deal. 

  • The government has confirmed that the EU Settlement Scheme will not apply to individuals arriving after 29 March 2019 in a no-deal scenario. Instead, EU individuals will be able to stay in the UK for up to three months, after which they will need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain. This will enable them to work, study and live in the UK for up to 3 years. Once their Leave to Remain expires, they will have to apply under the future immigration system (operational from 2021) for the relevant visa.

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

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