It has been reported that the government is planning to charge students from the European Union higher fees at English universities regardless of whether there is a Brexit deal or not.
EU students would no longer have the right to pay the same tuition fees as home students from the 2021-22 academic year under proposals by education secretary Damian Hinds, according to BuzzFeed News.
The change – which would apply whether or not there is a Brexit deal – would result in students from the EU paying fees in line with other overseas undergraduates.
People starting courses in 2019-20 will be eligible for the same fee rates as UK students, the government has announced.
The Department for Education said prospective EU students would be given ‘sufficient notice’ about arrangements for future years, and did not deny the reports.
A spokesman said: ‘Students from the EU make an important contribution to the universities sector and it is a testament to our system that so many students from abroad choose to come and study here.
‘Last year, we announced that students from the European Union starting courses in England in the 2019-20 academic year will continue to be eligible for ‘home fee status’, which means they will be charged the same tuition fees as UK students.
‘The government will provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2020-2021 academic year and subsequent years in the future.’
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told BuzzFeed News: ‘Tens of thousands of EU students in our universities would see their tuition fees skyrocket if this Government withdraws home-fee status from them after Brexit.
‘Time and time again Tory ministers have refused to recognise the vital contribution made by international students, particularly from the EU, in our universities.’
Amatey Doku, vice-president for higher education at the National Union of Students said: ‘This leaked policy announcement is a backwards step for the UK higher education sector, sending out the worst message to our EU partners and shutting out many talented students from our world class educational institutions.’
Doku, a supporter of the anti-Brexit For Our Future’s Sake group, said: ‘This isn’t ‘Project Fear’ about no deal, this is the reality of the government’s strategy to try to close our world-class educational institutions to the rest of the world.
‘Both EU students now and in the future, as well as the entirety of the UK, will be the victims of this and it’s why students across the UK back a public vote on any agreed Brexit deal.’