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Changes to tuition fees for EU students in the UK – what does it mean?

Students from the EU will now have to pay international student fees when studying in the UK – here’s everything you need to know about the change so far

Anne Marie Graham 's avatar

Anne Marie Graham

June 30 2020
painting giant EU flag on ground


From 1 January 2021, the new UK immigration system will lead to many changes for EU/EEA nationals wishing to live, study and work in the UK

The UK government announced on 23 June this year that EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members will not retain their current entitlement to home fee status or financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in the 2021-2022 academic year.

This announcement covers tuition fee status and eligibility for student finance in England only. We are waiting to hear from the other countries in the UK.

Students starting a course in the 2020-2021 academic year will continue to benefit from lower fees and student loans, as long as they meet certain requirements.

This should include students starting a course in January or February 2021, even if they have to apply for immigration permission under the new system, but confirmation is still needed for this.

We do not have full details because the regulations have not yet been published. Students who have already started a course will remain eligible for home fee status and student finance, as long as they continue to meet all relevant requirements.

The EU referendum result meant it was likely that students currently covered by EU/EEA/Swiss provisions in the fees regulations would lose their eligibility for UK government funding. This is because EU law means those covered by it must not be treated less favourably than nationals of the host state. The news is not unexpected but nevertheless will present difficulties for students from EU/EEA/Swiss countries hoping to study in England.

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UK Council for International Student Affairs is compiling a list of some of the most pressing questions that students and their families are already asking us, including about ongoing eligibility for those holding pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme and British citizens and their families who have been living in the EEA and Switzerland.

We will be discussing these with the Department for Education and will represent the interests of international students. We will provide more detail on our website about exactly what the changes will mean for students after these discussions have taken place and the detailed regulations are published.

UKCISA provides critical, timely advice to students and their sponsoring institutions to navigate this rapidly evolving landscape and we will work tirelessly to mitigate the impact of these changes.

What remains permanent is our openness to EU/EEA nationals in UK education. We continue to welcome you to the UK.

Roxanne Béchu, chair of UKCISA Student Advisory Group, said: “I got my offer from University of Sheffield just after the Brexit referendum result, and I was worried about coming to the UK as a French student. But I soon realised that everyone here was still welcoming and friendly, and Brexit doesn’t mean an end to student mobility and friendships.

“I have found the UK a remarkable place to live and study, and I will always cherish the memories and bonds I made in the past four years. I want as many European students as possible to share this great experience.”

Daniel Haid, We Are International student ambassador, added: “This policy change is at risk of affecting a large EU audience which has become accustomed to convenient, inexpensive, and visa-free traveling and studying abroad. We need the government to support and enable our institutions to continue providing an excellent and welcoming environment for all international students.

“I’m glad that UKCISA continues to work with EU students like myself through the #WeAreInternational campaign, sending a sound and clear message to all international students and making them feel welcome here.”

UKCISA – along with sector partners Universities UK International and British Universities’ International Liaison Association – called on the UK government to provide clarity on these critical issues for international students in light of the global Covid-19 crisis.

Read more: What does the new post-study work visa mean for international students in the UK?

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