Post‑Brexit PhDs

December 22, 2016

You have reported on the University of Cambridge publicising its assessment of the impact of Brexit on its staff and students (“Cambridge: Brexit ‘cliff edge’ risks huge fall in EU student numbers”, News, 8 December).

That Cambridge document expresses concern that tuition fees for PhD students might increase during their course. On the university website, however, it states that fees will not rise for European Union students mid-course: this is doubtless because under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 it would be unlawful to hike tuition fees charged to any student beyond a predictable inflationary increase once the institution-student contract commences for the assumed x years.

Perhaps the Cambridge Brexit document is trying to warn that a PhD applicant from an EU country who paid UK/EU fees as an undergraduate or while a master’s student could indeed be liable for PhD fees at the higher international student rate if offered a place post-Brexit? Whatever it is trying to say, it would be helpful for it to clarify that its existing non-UK EU PhD students will not face such fees during their current PhD registration of three/four years – otherwise, it risks unintentionally alarming such PhD students at Cambridge and elsewhere.

David Palfreyman
Bursar, New College, Oxford

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