UK pledges continued funding support for 2020 EU students

Universities in the United Kingdom have welcomed a government announcement that European Union students starting university in the 2020-21 academic year will have “guaranteed home fee status and financial support for the duration of courses in England”.

This year more than 37,000 EU students have applied for full-time undergraduate courses in England – a rise of 1.9% over the previous year, according to the UK Department for Education.

Speaking in Brussels on 28 May, Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said EU students enrolling in 2020-21 would remain eligible for undergraduate and postgraduate financial support, Advanced Learner loans, and further education and apprenticeships support – whether a deal for leaving the EU is in place or not.

The same applies to EU students starting courses for the 2019-20 academic year or before.

Skidmore said that the important contribution international students – including those from the EU – made to universities was valued by the UK. That so many students chose to study in the country was a testament to its world-class higher education system.

“It is important that we remember that while we have chosen to leave the EU, we are not leaving Europe, and our universities thrive on the diversity of being global institutions.”

Universities UK – which describes itself as the collective voice for 136 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – said that the recruitment cycle was already underway for courses starting in autumn 2020.

Continued uncertainty around the status of EU nationals would have significantly restricted student choice and the ability of universities to recruit from the EU.

The announcement on fees and financial support, said Universities UK Chief Executive Alistair Jarvis, “provides much needed clarity for EU students and for universities, particularly as it applies regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal”.

“It is important that other post-Brexit policies ensure an attractive offer to students from the EU and beyond and signal that the UK continues to be a welcoming place for those wishing to study here.”

The Department for Education said that work to determine the fee status for new EU students after the 2020-21 academic year was ongoing, as the government prepared for a “smooth and orderly exit from the EU as soon as possible”.

Government would provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2021-22 academic year and subsequent years in future.