EU students applying to start courses at English universities in 2017-18 will continue to be eligible for funding for their whole course, the government has guaranteed.
The Department for Education announced the move today, saying that the funding guarantee will mean that “their eligibility will continue throughout their course, even if the UK exits the European Union during that period”.
The move, which also means that EU 2017-18 entrants will have fees capped at the same £9,250 maximum as home students, will “help give universities and colleges certainty over future funding, while assuring prospective students applying to study at one of the UK’s world leading universities that they will not have the terms of their funding changed if the UK leaves the EU during their studies”, the Department for Education said.
Universities had been urging the government to offer EU students starting courses in 2017-18 a guarantee on funding, amid uncertainty caused by the UK’s vote to leave the union.
Jo Johnson, universities and science minister, said: “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.”
Dame Julia Goodfellow, Universities UK president and University of Kent vice-chancellor, said the announcement “provides much-needed clarity for EU students applying to start courses at English universities in autumn 2017”.
She added: “Every effort must now be made to ensure that this announcement is communicated effectively to prospective students across Europe.
“We hope that this announcement by the UK government will be followed by similar reassurances by governments in the devolved nations shortly.”
Dame Julia continued: “European and international students are a valuable part of cultural and academic life on British university campuses and play an important role in UK towns and cities, creating jobs and supporting local businesses.
“Looking ahead, as the government develops plans post-Brexit Britain, a commitment is needed to ensure that students, from Europe and beyond, are able to continue to come to the UK to study without unnecessary bureaucratic burdens.”
Under current rules, EU students are eligible to receive undergraduate tuition fee loans if they have resided in the European Economic Area for at least three years prior to study.
EU nationals who have resided in the UK for more than five years are also able to apply for undergraduate maintenance support and master’s loans.
Today’s announcement means those rules will continue to apply for 2017-18 entrants.
“The migration status of EU nationals in the UK is being discussed as part of wider discussions with the EU as the government works on reaching an agreement protecting the status of EU nationals here and our citizens in Europe,” the Department for Education said in its statement.