Fee changes will come into place from 2021 onwards in England, with the status of EU students elsewhere in the UK yet to be confirmed.
“Britain’s universities have a lot to offer, but they are facing strong competition”
Two-thirds of respondents said that even a 10% increase in tuition fees would make them ‘less likely to’, ‘much less likely to’ or ‘definitely not’ study in the UK, while a tuition increase of 100% would see 84% definitely not study in the UK and have no impact on only 0.8% of study plans.
International tuition fees at UK universities are generally 75-125% higher than home fees.
According to survey creators Study.EU, this could mean a loss of 120,000 students, or 25% of all non-UK students for British universities at a time when many are already struggling financially due to Covid-19 and anticipating lower international student enrolment.
More than half of respondents further said they would be affected by the removal of access to public loans. Studying in the UK is commonly funded by parents and family, loans and personal savings.
“This is a lose-lose situation for everyone. It is unfortunate that the political process leads to such negative consequences for students and universities. We hope that some other solution can be found that would promote student mobility between the UK and the EU,” said Gerrit Bruno Blöss, CEO of Study.EU.
“Beyond the already shocking numbers, British universities have to consider potential domino effects. Less diverse campuses might overall be less appealing to international students, regardless of fees charged.”
The report noted that other European destinations were the most common alternatives students were considering, particularly places like the Netherlands and Germany.
Cost appears to be a major determining factor; higher cost destinations like the US and Canada were not considered to be feasible alternatives by most.
It is not yet clear how these changes will impact outbound British students although Study.EU said that it is expected they “will also be faced with higher tuition fees in countries like the Netherlands, Sweden or Finland”.
Local media in Cyprus has reported that the government is seeking to create a bilateral agreement with the UK to allow its students to continue paying the same tuition fees.
The changes will also not apply to students from the Republic of Ireland under Common Travel Area agreements. A memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries earlier this year further confirmed both sides have “the right to access all levels of education and training, and associated student support, in each other’s state, on terms no less favourable than those for the citizens of that state”.
“We will see a range of reactions. Most universities have been overhauling their marketing and recruitment campaigns for a while. After all, the announcement did not come unexpectedly. Some may shift focus to more affluent origin countries,” added Blöss.
“A few institutions are also evaluating potential legal loopholes to charge different fees”
“At the same time, some are planning to open satellite campuses in continental Europe, to offer degree programs in transnational education settings. A few institutions are also evaluating potential legal loopholes to charge different fees,” he continued.
“Britain’s universities have a lot to offer, but they are facing strong competition on the continent. If they want to continue to attract students from the EU, they will need to communicate their excellent value proposition and make it clear that EU students are still welcome.”