Tuition fees and student loans will be pegged in England at same level as for home students
EU students going to English universities next year will be eligible for domestic tuition fees and student loans for the duration of their course regardless of Brexit, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced.
Chris Skidmore, the universities minister, told a meeting of ministers in Brussels that EU students would continue to be funded on the same basis as students in England for undergraduate and postgraduate courses starting in the 2020-21 academic year.
“We know that students will be considering their university options for next year already, which is why we are confirming now that eligible EU nationals will continue to benefit from home fee status and can access financial support for the 2020-21 academic year, so they have the certainty they need to make their choice,” Skidmore said.
The announcement was welcomed by university leaders, although it has been widely expected since the decision to delay the UK’s EU departure date until the end of October. The Scottish government said in April that EU students applying for courses there next year would be eligible for home student status.
Applications for undergraduate places at Oxbridge and medical schools close in October, leading to uncertainty for potential EU applicants. International student fees in England can be £15,000 a year higher than annual home student fees.
The decision means EU students will be eligible for student loans on tuition fees of £9,250 a year for undergraduate courses in England. EU nationals who have lived for five years in the UK are also eligible for maintenance loans.
Jess Cole, the director of policy for the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, said Skidmore’s announcement was critical to clarify the fee status for tens of thousands of EU students.
“To reassure these students further, the government should guarantee their migration rights for the duration of their studies. Students starting courses in 2020-21 should be eligible for the EU settlement scheme regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU without a deal,” Cole said.
“Students from across the EU enrich campus life and bring benefits to all regions of the UK, making a positive impact on our economy. We want to ensure the UK remains open and attractive to talented students from Europe and more widely after the UK leaves the EU.”
The DfE said discussions were ongoing on the future fee status for EU students starting courses after 2020-21.
Alistair Jarvis, the chief executive of the Universities UK group, said: “It is important that other post-Brexit policies ensure an attractive offer to students from the EU and beyond and signal that the UK continues to be a welcoming place for those wishing to study here.”
The DfE’s announcement comes before a review of tertiary education funding in England, which is expected to recommend a cut in undergraduate fees to £7,500 a year and a shift in funding towards vocational training and further education.
The review – established by Theresa May last year – is unlikely to have any immediate impact on tuition fees or other funding, although its recommendations could inform future Conservative party policy.