A lot of speculation has arisen over whether or not the UK’s decision to leave the EU will have an adverse effect on EU nationals studying at UK universities. In October 2016, the Department of Education released a statement affirming that EU students who apply to study from the 2017 to 2018 academic year in British universities would still have access to the same levels of tuition fees, both for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. In addition to this, they would continue to be eligible throughout the duration of their course, even if Brexit is triggered during that time. So for those EU national students who are currently studying in British institutions, there does not seem to be any drastic changes. However, this still raises questions about what happens to students who wish to apply after Brexit?
At the moment, Prime Minister Theresa May has put forward her intention of leaving the single market. It could be that EU students, just like other international students, may have to apply for student visas in order to study in the UK. Conversely, British students who also wish to study abroad may be affected. For instance, Maastricht University, which is situated in the Netherlands, attested that if the UK leave the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement which advocates legislation concerning the single market, tuition fees could increase from their current level of £1,600 to anywhere between £6,000 and £8,000 a year. Although this does seem like a sharp increase, other countries, governments, and institutions in the EU will most likely have their own regulations.
Another financial implication of leaving the EU includes funding to universities. Even though the UK currently pays membership fees to the EU, the money returned to universities is great, and has helped with building new facilities, in addition to funding programmes within institutions such as the renowned “Erasmus” exchange programme. A large proportion of research funding and grants are also provided by the EU to UK universities. This funding is crucial not only for ground-breaking research and resources, it makes studying in the UK an attractive and viable option because of research excellence, and partnerships with academics from around the globe. Currently, none of this has been confirmed, and might not go ahead, however, it is not just British universities which will be monitoring these changes, but other universities in the EU. Close attention will be paid to British students studying at their universities, and whether they will still be eligible for Home-EU status, which may have a significant effect on the admissions of students as well as their financial intake.