Brexit FAQs for Universities and Students

Universities UK is currently working through the ramifications of the leave vote for the higher education sector. We will continue to keep members and all our stakeholders informed as events develop.

 Will EU students still be able to study at UK universities?

  • The EU referendum outcome will not lead to any immediate change to the immigration status of current EU students or those about to start a course in the coming academic year (2016–17). This has been confirmed in a statement (27 June) from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science.
  • The longer term implications for EU students who want to apply to study in the UK (ie from 2017–18 onwards) will depend on the outcome of negotiations and what kind of relationship the UK agrees with the EU.
  • An immediate priority for Universities UK is to urge the government to take steps to ensure students from EU countries can continue to study at UK universities on the same terms after the UK leaves the European Union and beyond.

Will tuition fees rise for EU students studying at UK universities as a result of Brexit?

  • There will be no immediate change to the tuition fees paid by current EU students attending UK universities.
  • It is important to remember that the UK will not leave the EU overnight – the negotiation process is expected to take up to two years, and the EU has indicated that this process will not commence until the UK triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, formally signalling its intent to leave the EU. EU students are entitled to pay the same fees as UK students while the UK remains a member of the EU.
  • The fees that EU students are required to pay in the longer-term will depend on what is agreed as part of the UK’s exit negotiations.

Will EU students continue to be eligible to receive loans and grants?

  • EU students attending universities in England and Wales who are eligible under current rules to receive loans and grants from the Student Loans Company will continue to do so for the duration of courses they are currently enrolled on, or are about to start this coming year. This has been confirmed by the Student Loans Company for England, and by Universities Wales for Wales.
  • A statement (27 June) from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, on student finance in England, reaffirms this.
  • Under EU law, students from EU member states applying for undergraduate degrees at Scottish universities are currently eligible for free tuition. For EU students attending a university in Scotland, the Scottish Government and Universities Scotland haveconfirmed that there has been no change in current funding arrangements and that eligible EU students already studying in Scotland or commencing their studies in the coming months will continue to benefit from free tuition and, for those who meet the residency requirement, associated living cost support.
  • We are currently awaiting confirmation on equivalent arrangements for EU students at universities in Northern Ireland.

​What about students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange programme?

  • Students from UK universities currently overseas on an Erasmus+ placement, and those considering applying to participate in Erasmus+ next year (2016–17) will not be affected by the referendum result.
  • The European Commission has confirmed that EU law continues to apply to the full in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a member. This therefore also applies to the projects financed through the Erasmus+ programme.
  • In the longer term, Universities UK will be urging the government to seek assurances from the EU that the UK can continue to access this valuable exchange programme.

Will the UK continue to have access to EU funding for research and​ innovation and be able to apply for EU research grants under Horizon 2020?

  • There will be no immediate change to the UK university sector’s ability to participate in EU research and innovation programmes such as Horizon 2020. This was confirmed in a statement (27 June) from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science. This has also been confirmed by the EU commissioner for research and innovation.
  • The long term future of UK participation in European science programmes will be decided as part of the UK’s exit negotiations. These talks are expected to take up to two years. The UK will remain an EU member during this time and as such will be entitled to participate in EU programmes and apply for EU research grants.
  • Universities UK is committed to making sure that the UK government takes steps to ensure that the UK can continue to participate in EU research collaboration and funding programmes after the UK formally leaves the European Union.


Will UK universities still be able to employ staff from other EU countries?

  • The UK remains a member of the EU for the time being and the government has confirmed that there will be no immediate changes to UK visa policies for university staff currently, or contemplating, coming to the UK from the EU.
  • In terms of recruiting EU staff in the longer-term, this will depend on the kind of relationship the UK negotiates with the EU. Universities UK will work to ensure the UK government takes steps to preserve the free movement of EU researchers, scientists and academic staff.

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