Study Abroad

Study Abroad After Brexit: What it Means for UK and EU Students

Anna Pedersen

Anna is a freelance writer and editor, currently based in Portland, Oregon. She has traveled to 40+ countries, lived on four continents, and called the United Arab Emirates home for over two years.

Brexit: it’s been on our minds and in the news since 2016 and as of January 31, 2020, it’s finally our reality. The UK has left the European Union. The long-term consequences of this are virtually unknown, as this is completely unchartered territory. But what we do know is that there are bound to be a few changes that could affect UK students studying in the EU and vice versa.

While it’s hard to predict exactly what the next year will bring in terms of geopolitical relationships, we can surmise a few of the potential consequences. Keep in mind that the situation regarding Brexit is changing quickly, so the information included in this article is merely speculative. If you are concerned that Brexit may affect your immigration or visa status, make sure to keep up to date with information directly from the UK government.

What Exactly is Brexit?

So much time has passed since we first heard this portmanteau that it’s hard to keep straight exactly what it all means. Here’s a quick timeline of events:

  • June 26, 2016: UK votes to leave the EU, despite polls which predicted the opposite. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, announces his resignation the following day.
  • July 13, 2016: Theresa May becomes Prime Minster by default. Soon thereafter, May sets out a “hard Brexit” plan for exiting the EU.
  • March 29, 2017: May triggers an article which formally starts the countdown—the UK will now leave the EU in two years.
  • April 12, 2019: After multiple failed attempts to push a withdrawal agreement through the Commons, May is forced to extend the deadline for leaving until October 31st.
  • June 7, 2019: May resigns after three failed attempts to get a withdrawal agreement through Parliament.
  • July 24, 2019: In comes Boris Johnson, who extends the deadline (again) and calls for a general election in order to bypass Parliament.
  • December 12, 2019: Johnson wins a conservative majority in the general election, ensuring that he will be able to pass a withdrawal agreement.
  • January 31, 2020: Brexit day. The UK officially leaves the European Union, after more than three years of back and forth negotiations and gridlock.

The repercussions of Brexit will become clear over the coming months and years, but one thing we know for sure is this: now through December 31, 2020 will be a transition period while the UK and the EU negotiate additional arrangements. According to the UK government, “The current rules on trade, travel, and business for the UK and the EU will continue to apply during the transition period.”

For all students who could be impacted by Brexit, this is great news because it basically means you have a year to figure out how you will be affected. Read on for some tips on how best to prepare during this transition period.

What to Expect: EU Students Studying in the UK After Brexit

The UK government has reached an agreement with the EU to protect individuals living in the UK. That means that most EU citizens living in the UK will be able to continue their lives as normal. In fact, up until June 30, 2021, all EU students who are studying in the UK have the “right to reside,” meaning they have the right to live in the UK without further application.

After June 30, 2021, you may be eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, which could continue to allow you to stay in the UK. This application will require certain residence documents, which you can start to apply for now.

Since news regarding Brexit continues to emerge, keep yourself informed, especially regarding how the shift will affect your immigration status.

Brexit Impact on UK Tuition Fees

It’s expected that Brexit will have an impact on tuition fees and European students’ eligibility for funding. Those changes are not clear at this time. However, we do know that students who are beginning studies in England in the 2021 academic year or before will be eligible for ‘home fee’ status as well as student finance support.

If you’re already studying with Erasmus, you should not be impacted. However, placements that begin after Brexit will no longer be eligible for Student Finance England.

If you are currently studying in the UK or plan to study there within the next few academic years, you should contact your provider and home institution to get the most up to date information about tuition changes and financial support eligibility.

What to Expect: UK Students Studying in the EU After Brexit

The impact of Brexit will vary from country to country. You may need to register or apply for residency. You also might need to apply for healthcare, so you should check to see how Brexit will affect your coverage. Additionally, you may need to exchange your UK driver’s license for a license from the country where you’re living.

All of these changes are up in the air, and they are all country dependent. The UK government has created a very useful tool to see the expected impact that Brexit will have in every country in the EU. Make sure that you are checking this information regularly to see how your studies will be impacted.

You should also check the government website for the country where you are studying, as most governments have created special guides for how to prepare for Brexit. These will have the most specific information as it relates to your particular situation. You can also contact your local embassy or follow them on social media to get notifications about how UK nationals where you’re living will be impacted.

Brexit Impact on EU Tuition Fees

At this time, there is not much new information that has been revealed as to how studying in the EU will change after December 31, 2020. We do know, however, that students who are already studying through Erasmus or who will during the 2019/2020 academic year, will not see changes to their tuition fees or student finance agreement. This should also hold true for all other students studying in the EU.

If you choose to finish your studies in the UK rather than completing them in the EU, it’s possible you may be eligible for student financial support. If you’re funded by Student Finance England and there is a tuition increase, you may be able to apply for an additional loan.

It’s expected that we might see tuition fluctuations in the coming years. France, for example, is expected to see tuition increases due to government reforms to public university. Denmark, on the other hand, has said that Brexit will not affect student fees, as long as you are a resident of Denmark before the end of the implementation period. The gist: you may see your tuition fees change or you may not, but it would be in your best interest to contact your university and use the resources provided in this article to get as much information as you can about your individual situation.

The reality is that information about Brexit is both sparse and constantly changing. There will be an impact on UK students in the EU and vice versa, so it’s important you read up on what to expect and talk to the study abroad and financial aid offices in your institution. Information is key, so keep yourself informed and you should be able to weather this Brexit storm!

Useful Resources from the UK Government