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England: EU students lose home fee status from 2021/22

Students from across Europe will be unable to access home fee status or taxpayer funded financial support to study at universities in England from August 2021, the government has announced.

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status or support from Student Finance England. Photo: pixabay

Scotland and Wales are yet to declare what institutions in the respective countries will charge European students

EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for the same fee status as domestic students, universities minister Michelle Donelan confirmed.

“EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status”

“Following our decision to leave the EU, EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22,” she said.

“This change will also apply to Further Education funding for those aged 19+, and funding for apprenticeships.”

While this announcement confirms the question of home fees in England for students from the EU, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are yet to declare what institutions in the respective countries will charge students.

“We are finalising our position on future support to EU students who start a course from 2021-22 and will make an announcement soon,” a Scottish Government spokesperson said.

As in England and Scotland, EU nationals studying in Wales will be eligible for student support and home fee status in the 2020/21 academic year.

“We are reviewing our policy for future years in light of the UK government’s announcement,” a Welsh Government spokesperson said.

Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute Nick Hillman noted the news will be “seen as bad news inside universities”.

Lower fees and access to taxpayer subsidised student loans have lowered the financial obstacles to studying in the UK, he explained.

“My message to any EU citizen wishing to benefit from the current arrangements is that it is not too late to apply for entry in 2020, before the new rules come into force next year,” Hillman said.

HEPI has previously found that higher fees and no more access to student loans could risk a decline of around 60% in the number of EU students coming to the UK to study.

“If that happens, our universities will be less diverse and less open to influences from other countries,” Hillman continued.

“However, it is morally and legally difficult to continue charging lower fees to EU citizens than we already charge to people from the rest of the world once Brexit has taken full effect,” he suggested, adding the decision is not a “huge surprise”.

“Moreover, history suggests that the education on offer in our universities is something people are willing to pay for. So, if we adopt sensible post-Brexit migration rules and if universities work very hard to recruit from other EU nations, it is likely that many of our fellow Europeans will still wish to study here.

“Above all, we need to make it abundantly clear to people from the EU and beyond that our universities remain open to all.”

Chief executive of Universities UK Alistair Jarvis added institutions are ready to welcome and support students from Europe.

“Overseas students – from the EU and beyond – should be able to study in the UK with minimal barriers,” he said. “International students enhance the educational environment in our universities, benefitting all students, and are an integral part of our society and culture.

“Universities would have preferred the certainty of current arrangements for EU students in England being extended for those starting courses in 2021/22. However, it is important to note that EU students starting courses in autumn 2020 will continue to pay home fees for the duration of their course and be eligible for the UK’s EU settlement scheme if they arrived before the end of this year.”

UK government representatives, including Donelan, wrote to prospective students urging them to consider applying for the 2020/21 academic year.

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