Universities from across the European Union can now apply to join the admissions service used by UK students, Ucas has confirmed.
Under previous rules, students had to apply directly to overseas universities if they wanted to study outside the UK.
The landmark decision by Ucas raises the prospect of universities from the Netherlands, Germany and Finland offering places alongside UK universities this summer.
Any universities applying to join Ucas, however, must “demonstrate that they meet equivalent standards to those in the UK”, a Ucas spokesman said.
“The inclusion of a wider range of higher education providers in the Ucas system offers students more choice about where and what to study,” he added.
About 30,000 UK students take up undergraduate places abroad each year, but the new reforms may open the door to many more heading to EU countries, where tuition is either free or a fraction of the £9,000 fees paid at UK universities.
However, students are currently unable to receive loans or grants for tuition fees or maintenance costs if they intend to study abroad – a factor that may limit the number of outbound students.