Students from the European Union will no longer be eligible for home fee status and student loans in England in the next academic year following Brexit, the government has confirmed.
Those starting their studies in 2021/22 will not have the same tuition fee status and financial support from Student Finance England as British students, Michelle Donelan has said.
EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss students will no longer have access to the same undergraduate and postgraduate financial support, advanced learner loans and further education and apprenticeships support following the government’s ‘decision to leave the EU’.
The change comes after the latest UCAS figures showed that fewer EU students applied to study at UK universities this year.
The statistics – which show the numbers applying to start undergraduate courses by the main January 15 application deadline – reveal that the number of EU applicants dropped by 860 to 43,030, down 2%.
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In a written statement, Donelan said: ‘EU, other EEA and Swiss students, staff and researchers make an important contribution to our universities. I want that contribution to continue and am confident – given the world-leading quality of our higher education sector – that it will.’
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), said the announcement would be seen as ‘bad news inside universities’.
He said: ‘To date, EU students have benefited from lower fees and access to student loans that are subsidised by UK taxpayers. Together, these have lowered the financial obstacles to studying in the UK.’
But Mr Hillman added it ‘was not a huge surprise’ because it is ‘difficult’ to continue charging lower fees to EU citizens than students from the rest of the world once Brexit has taken full effect.
‘My message to any EU citizen wishing to benefit from the current arrangements is that it is not too late to apply for entry in 2020, before the new rules come into force next year,’ he said.
Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said: ‘Universities would have preferred the certainty of current arrangements for EU students in England being extended for those starting courses in 2021/22.
‘However, it is important to note that EU students starting courses in autumn 2020 will continue to pay home fees for the duration of their course and be eligible for the UK’s EU settlement scheme if they arrived before the end of this year.’