At the beginning of 2020, the UK left the European Union. On 31 December 2020, the transition period will come to an end. We are still waiting on some terms of the withdrawal to be agreed, but we do know some details of how leaving the EU will affect EU nationals studying in the UK.
We have put together some information on the key issues that we know EU students studying with us will be worried about, and explain what you need to do (if anything) to prepare.
There will be no change to the rights of Irish citizens at the end of the transition period, as their residence and right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangements. Irish students will continue to have access to home fee status and visa-free study.
You do not need a visa if you already live in the UK or if you arrive in the UK on or before 31 December 2020.
If you are starting or have started a full-time degree course in 2020/21 and arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020, you are eligible to apply for the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme. This will allow you to remain in the UK after you have completed your studies as long as you apply by 30 June 2021. The guidance from Universities UK advises students to apply, as it will give you more options post-study.
If you are arriving in the UK after the 31 of December 2020, you will need to apply for a visa under the Student route as part of the new points-based system. The application system is now open, and you may apply up to six months in advance. You will need to demonstrate that you meet specific requirements.
You can read the Government guidance on the student route on the government’s website.
For students studying in the UK under the new visa system, you will be eligible to apply for the Graduate route to stay in the UK post-study for up to two years, provided you arrive in the UK by the 6 of April 2021 and meet the other eligibility requirements of the route.
Read more about student visas on the Government website.
Governments across the UK have confirmed that EU students who started their course in or before the 2020/21 academic year will still be eligible for home fee status and financial support as per existing rules. This means that if you are currently studying for a course, you will not experience a change in your tuition fees. If you are starting your degree before the end of this academic year, you will still have access to student loans in the UK with home fee status.
If you are starting your course in the next academic year (2021/22), you will not have access to home fee status or financial support from Student Finance England, unless you are an Irish national living in the UK or Ireland due to the common travel area.
Exceptions may be made under the citizens' rights agreement, but at this time we do not know the details of these. This means that universities will be able to set the fees for these students, which may be the same as international tuition fees. It will be at each university’s discretion to set these fees.
The UK will continue to participate fully in Erasmus+ until the end of the current program. This means EU staff and students can complete mobility periods (subject to coronavirus restrictions), and receive funding through the current Erasmus+ program up until the end of the 2021/22 academic year, subject to the individual arrangements at each sending university.
Whether or not the UK will engage in Erasmus+ after next academic year is yet to be negotiated.
UK degrees will still be recognised in the EU, and holding a degree from the UK will not detriment you in any way. We understand that this is a confusing time for our students who are EU nationals, but we hope that some of the information laid out here will be helpful and provide some reassurance.
In addition to the Government guidance, you can also check out the Universities UK International website for more in-depth information.