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 9 August 2018

  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? 

  • Yes. 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 (n.b. the final details of the scheme are still subject to agreement by Parliament).

  • 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 them to live, work and study in the UK for as long as they like. The settlement scheme will open fully in March 2019 and the deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.

  • The government has also committed in its Brexit White Paper to ‘facilitat[ing] mobility for students and young people, enabling them to continue to benefit from world leading universities.’ once the UK leaves the EU.

  • UUK is calling on the government to use the upcoming Immigration Bill 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. However, the immigration status of EU citizens arriving in the UK after 31 December 2020 will depend on the kind of relationship the UK negotiates with the EU and the migration system that is established after withdrawal.

  • The government is in negotiations with governments of EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland about the rights of their citizens. 


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 students attending UK universities or for those coming for courses starting in 2018–19 or in 2019-20. This means that 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.

  • The fees that EU students starting courses at UK universities following the agreed transition period 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 students and those applying for courses in 2018–19 and 2019-20

  • Separate statements from across all UK nations confirm that there has been no change in the eligibility requirements for current EU 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 2019-20.

  • EU 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 2019–20 entrants has been confirmed in England, Wales and for Northern Ireland.

  • Under EU law, students from 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.


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 2017, the UK will be able to participate in Erasmus+ until the end of the programme in 2020, providing there is a final exit deal agreed upon. 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-EU phase one agreement envisions that 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 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.

  • In July 2018, it was announced that, even in a ‘no deal’ scenario, Horizon 2020 funding that is applied for after the UK leaves the EU would be guaranteed by the UK Treasury.

    

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

  • Yes. 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 (n.b. the final details of the scheme are still subject to agreement by Parliament) and in the recent Brexit White Paper.

  • 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.

  • 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 been in the UK for fewer 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 also committed in its Brexit White Paper to ensuring that the post-Brexit immigration system ‘enhanc[es] the UK’s attractiveness for research, development and innovation’.

  • UUK is calling on the government to use the upcoming Immigration Bill 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. However, the immigration status of EU citizens arriving in the UK after 31 December 2020 will depend on the kind of relationship the UK negotiates with the EU and the migration system that is established after withdrawal.

  • The government is in negotiations with governments of EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland about the rights of their citizens.

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

News

Brexit white paper

12 July 2018
UUK's response to the Brexit white paper.

Confirmation of EU students' fees in England post-Brexit

2 July 2018
The Department of Education has announced that EU students starting courses next year (2019-20) in England will remain eligible to receive government-backed loans to cover their tuition fee for the duration of their courses.

Need for urgent clarity on status of EU students

14 June 2018
The UK could see a drop in EU students unless there is urgent clarity about the fee status of EU students starting courses next year (2019-20).

Blog

Horizon 2020: universities need clarity on UK participation in EU research and innovation programme

7 November 2017
Universities UK International's Peter Mason looks at the possible impact of Brexit on the UK's participation in the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. He looks at what's at stake and what universities need.

How can universities help to attract and retain graduates in North East England?

27 April 2017
Ross Smith, Director of Policy at North East England Chamber of Commerce, outlines areas where universities could do more to help encourage graduates to stay to work in North East England