Speaking in Brussels, Skidmore announced that EU nationals who start a higher education course in England next year will remain eligible for undergraduate and postgraduate financial support, Advanced Learner loans, as well as FE and apprenticeships support.
“Our universities thrive on the diversity of being global institutions”
The minister said that it is important to remember that “while the UK has chosen to leave the EU, we are not leaving Europe, and our universities thrive on the diversity of being global institutions”.
“We know that students will be considering their university options for next year already, which is why we are confirming now that eligible EU nationals will continue to benefit from home fee status and can access financial support for the 20/21 academic year, so they have the certainty they need to make their choice,” he added.
The latest 2019 application cycle data shows more than 37,000 EU students have applied for full-time undergraduate courses in England – an increase of 1.9% on the previous year.
Commenting on the announcement, Russell Group director of Policy Jess Cole said it will be welcome news to the tens of thousands of EU students applying to start courses in England in 2020.
“Having clarity of their fee status is critical, especially in light of the continuing uncertainty over Brexit,” Cole said.
To reassure these students further, Cole said the government should guarantee their migration rights for the duration of their studies.
“Students starting courses in 2020/21 should be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU without a deal,” she said.
“We want to ensure the UK remains open and attractive to talented students from Europe and more widely after the UK leaves the EU.”
Universities UK chief executive Alistair Jarvis added that continued uncertainty would have significantly restricted student choice and the ability of English universities to recruit students from the EU.
“EU students make an important contribution to our universities, enriching our campuses culturally and academically and we are pleased to see this recognised by the government,” he said.
“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.”
In a statement on the department for education website, the government said it recognises the need to provide certainty for students and the sector, specifically for the academic year 2020/21 as the recruitment process gets underway.
“It is important that other post-Brexit policies ensure an attractive offer to students from the EU”
“Work to determine the future fee status for new EU students after the 2020/21 academic year is ongoing as the government prepares for a smooth and orderly exit from the EU as soon as possible,” the statement read.
“The government will provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2021/2022 academic year and subsequent years in future.”