Brexit FAQs

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Universities UK is working through the implications for the higher education sector of the Brexit transition period ending without a deal. We will continue to keep members and all our stakeholders informed as events develop. Please check this page regularly for updates. ​​

  1. When does the post-Brexit transition period end?

  2. What do the UK-EU negotiations on a future relationship mean for universities, their students and staff?

  3. What should EU and EEA students starting a course in 2020/21 expect?

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

  5. What about students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange programme?

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

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


1. When does the post-Brexit transition period end? 

  • The transition period will end on 31 December 2020. The UK government has confirmed its intention not to seek an extension beyond this date

2. What do the UK-EU negotiations on a future relationship mean for universities, their students and staff? 

  • The UK and EU have until 31 December 2020 to agree a new kind of relationship in various areas including trade and security.
  • There is still much to be agreed in the months remaining. For universities, their students and staff, the negotiations will determine: 
    • whether the UK will participate in EU programmes such as Erasmus and Horizon Europe (both due to start in January 2021)
    • what will replace the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (eg in architecture, accountancy) Directive in the UK
    • what additional considerations will be needed for UK universities providing education services (eg transnational education) in the EU
    • if the UK and EU can continue to exchange personal data in the same way as they do now

  • Separate to negotiations, the UK government has announced intentions to:
    • change immigration rules for EU/EEA nationals arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021
    • change the fee and loan status for EU/EEA students starting a course in England from 2021/22
    • launch a UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the EU Structural and Investment Funds

3. What should EU and EEA students starting a course in 2020/21 expect? 

  • UK universities are open to the world and will continue to welcome students from across the EU during and beyond the transition period.

  • Governments across the UK have confirmed that EU/EEA students starting a course at any point in the 2020/21 academic year will still be eligible for ‘home’ tuition fee status and able to access financial support from the Student Loans Company as in previous years. These rules will apply for the duration of these students’ degree courses, even if the course starts after the transition period but still in the 2020/21 academic year.

  • Students arriving in the UK by 31 December 2020 will not require a visa but will need to apply for the Settlement Scheme to ensure they are able to complete their studies without requiring a visa. 

  • Those arriving from 1 January 2021 will require a visa to enter the UK and will not be eligible for the Settlement Scheme. Details of the visa application process for EU/EEA students have not been published but we are expecting further announcements in autumn 2020. 

  • Settled status enables 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 via the gov.uk website

  • 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.

  • Further information on what Brexit may mean for EU students is available in our Brexit FAQs for EU students pdf. Information on EEA and Swiss students is available in our Brexit FAQs for EEA and Swiss students pdf.

4. 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 2020–21 will still be eligible for home fee status and for financial support as per existing rules. 

  • Different announcements have been made for universities in EnglandWales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • For EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course in 2021/22, the following has been confirmed:
    • at universities in England, new students will not be eligible for home fee status or financial support from Student Finance England unless: an individual has benefitted from Citizens’ Rights under either the EU Withdrawal Agreement, the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement; an individual is an Irish national living in either the UK or Ireland (due to the Common Travel Area arrangement)
    • no announcements have yet been made for students wishing to study in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

5. What about students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange programme?

  • The UK will continue to participate fully in Erasmus+ until the end of the current programme. This means EU staff and students can complete mobility periods (subject to public and global health requirements), and receive funding through the current Erasmus+ programme up until the end of the 2021/22 academic year, subject to the individual arrangements at each sending university.

  • The UK and EU are currently negotiating what role the UK might play in the Erasmus successor programme due to start in 2021. In the meantime, UUK is informing the Department for Education’s development of a ‘UK International Educational Mobilities Scheme’, as a national alternative to Erasmus, should the UK’s access to it be delayed or denied.


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

  • The Horizon Europe programme will replace Horizon 2020 and will run from 2021–27. The start of Horizon Europe is due to coincide with the end of the transition period. This means that the UK will cease to be eligible for EU funding from Horizon Europe unless a UK association agreement is finalised before the end of 2020. 

  • If the UK does not associate to Horizon Europe, UK applicants would remain eligible to participate in most collaborative Horizon Europe on a self-funded (‘third country’) basis, but would no longer be eligible to participate in single-beneficiary calls like the European Research Council and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. 

  • In the Research and Development Roadmap, published in July 2020, it was confirmed that funding will be made available to support participation by UK researchers in Horizon Europe projects as a third country. The government will also establish a ‘Discovery Fund’ to support researchers at all career stages to pursue discovery-led, ground-breaking research, as well as scaling up prestigious domestic grant schemes that already exist. 

  • UUK continues to lobby for full association for the next framework programme, Horizon Europe, which is due to start on 1 January 2021. The Research and Development Roadmap reiterates that the UK Government wishes to fully associate if a ‘fair and balanced’ deal can be struck. The UK and EU are currently negotiating what role the UK might play in Horizon Europe. The proposal for the new programme was published by the European Commission in June 2018, and leaves open the possibility of full UK participation as an associated country. 

  • In the meantime, UUK is working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to flesh out the commitments made in the Research and Development Roadmap and to develop alternative schemes to support international research and innovation collaboration that are credible and ambitious options which will protect the sector in the short-term, whilst taking the time to build an attractive long-term offer.


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

  • Yes; EU nationals who already live in the UK (or who arrive by 31 December), 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 via the gov.uk website

  • 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. 

  • From 1 Januray 2021, the Tier 2 visa will be replaced with a points-based immigration system. To find out more visit the gov.uk website.


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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