New rules for EU students who want to study in Britain during the 2020-21 academic year will be introduced at the end of the Brexit transition period on Dec. 31, 2020.
What is the situation at present?
During the transition period to Dec. 31, 2020, the situation for an estimated 150,000 EU students has remained unchanged, as the UK and the EU are trying to agree on the terms of their new relationship. EU students currently have “home fee status,” which means they pay the same tuition fee level as their UK counterparts, depending on where the university is located. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the UK government responsible for England, the education policy is set by devolved governments. Tuition fees, as a result, vary.
Students with home fee status can be charged up to 9,250 pounds ($12,400, 10,250 euros) per year for an undergraduate degree in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. No charge applies to Scottish or EU undergraduates studying in Scotland. To cover tuition fees, EU students are eligible to apply for a student loan. Under a reciprocal agreement, Ireland has separate arrangements with the UK.
What’s going on for EU students on Jan. 1, 2020?
Under the Settlement Scheme, all EU citizens have to apply for residency status, which grants them the right to live and study in the UK when new immigration rules kick in. There will still be home fee status for students who start a degree course at some point in the 2020/21 academic year and arrive in the UK by Dec. 31, 2020.
If they are studying in the UK for more than six months, new students arriving after this date will need a student visa that costs about 350 pounds. They will also have to pay a surcharge of about 500 pounds per year to use the state-run National Health Service (NHS).
What is going to happen in the next academic year?
EU students starting courses after Aug. 1, 2021 across the UK look set to pay higher international tuition fees and not be permitted to receive UK student loans.
How much are EU students going to have to pay?
In 2020, undergraduate tuition fees for an international student were between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds per year according to the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine. A longer undergraduate medical degree could cost nearly 59,000 pounds for foreign students.
Typically, undergraduate degrees in the UK require three years of study. According to THE, the average student debt this year was 27,000 pounds, but that does not include repayment of maintenance loans to cover living costs. This can amount to between 35,000 and 40,000 pounds combined.
What is still not known or agreed on?
London and Brussels have yet to reach an agreement with respect to their future relationship. It remains unclear if, beyond the end of this academic year, Britain will continue to participate in EU academic programmes such as Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe. Guidelines for EU students to apply for student visas have been laid out by the UK government.
But there is uncertainty as to whether home status tuition fees for courses starting in 2021-22 can be paid by students who have already obtained settled or pre-settled status in the UK.
Many overseas students are studying remotely outside the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced the suspension of face-to-face tuition and travel restrictions. It is not clear if they can still qualify for pre-settled status if they do not visit the UK this year.