EU students beginning higher education in England in the 2017 – 2018 academic year will be guaranteed access to funding for the entirety of their course, the government has announced. This guarantee comes regardless of Brexit, meaning if the UK leaves the EU before this time, students will still be offered the same deal. Similar proposals have also been announced in Wales and Scotland.
The announcement from the universities minister, Jo Johnson, means that domestic fees, loans and grants will still be offered to students from EU countries. This will hopefully calm some of the fears surrounding the status of international students in the UK; the uncertainty of Brexit left a situation in which many students may have been put off from applying, particularly those worried about their eligibility and financial arrangements.
Johnson also praised the internationalization of England’s universities, stating that, “international students make an important contribution to our world-class universities, and we want that to continue. This latest assurance that students applying to study next year will not only be eligible to apply for student funding under current terms, but will have their eligibility maintained throughout the duration of their course, will provide important stability for both universities and students.”
EU students are currently charged domestic fees, and if they have lived in the European Economic Area for three or more years, they’re entitled to loans from Student Finance England. If they’ve lived in the UK for five years or more, they’re also entitled to maintenance support and master’s loans.
The picture in Wales
Student Finance Wales has also issued a statement announcing its intention to continue providing loans and grants to EU students starting courses in 2017.
The education secretary for Wales, Kirsty Williams, stated:
“We want to make sure Welsh universities continue to attract the best and brightest from across the EU despite the uncertainty following the vote for Brexit.”
Scotland may be following suit
A similar picture is emerging in Scotland, where a number of groups including NUS Scotland, UCU Scotland and Universities Scotland, are lobbying the government to provide funding through 2017.
“EU students bring immense cultural, economic, and educational benefits to our universities and colleges, as well as wider Scottish society […] those students deserve assurances and certainty that Scotland remains an open and welcoming place for them to study. To not do so risks compromising EU students coming to Scotland, and the hugely negative effects that would have.”
Mary Senior, of UCU Scotland, also praised the announcement, but issued a warning regarding uncertainty over the status of higher education faculty and staff, as well as that of students:
“We also need to keep the pressure on the UK government to guarantee the rights of the many EU nationals working in our universities and who do the teaching and research which makes Scottish higher education world class.”
Interested in finding out more about higher education in the EU? Find out why Ireland is aiming for internationalisation.