While everyone knows that Brexit is due to come into effect this year, nobody knows exactly what form it will take.
More than 500,000 foreign students study in the UK every year, and so the authorities in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have moved to assure students starting their college courses this year, 2019/2020 and next year, 2020/2021, that the current fees and financial assistance packages available to them remain unchanged for the duration of their college course.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) is the UK’s national advisory body serving the interests of international students and those who work with them.
Universities UK, an umbrella group representing the country’s universities, also provides excellent up to date information for visiting EU students.
Applications to study full-time at any one of the 350 universities in Britain and Northern Ireland are made through UCAS.
So far there are no proposals to make any changes to this system.
Most European Union nationals pay the same college fees as home students and they are normally eligible for financial support.
Whether there is a withdrawal agreement, or if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU students are guaranteed to be eligible for home student fees as well as financial support throughout their degree once they start their studies this year 2019/2020 or in the academic year 2020/2021.
What happens after that is as yet unknown.
In the event of a withdrawal agreement with the EU no visa is required by students arriving in the UK to study before January 1, 2021, but in order to stay in the UK beyond that date students must apply for ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status. (gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families)
In the event of a no-deal Brexit anyone arriving in the UK between the official Brexit date and December 31, 2021, should apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain, which will allow EU citizens to remain in the UK for three years.
Anyone arriving in the UK from 2021 onwards should apply for a student visa.
Universities in the UK offer lots of help to guide their students through the application process.
According to Universities UK, the representative group for UK universities, after the UK leaves the EU, most academic qualifications will still be recognised.
They concede that recognition of some professional qualifications may not be recognised, but UK universities are hoping that the mutual recognition of professional qualifications will continue.
According to Universities UK, if there is a withdrawal agreement students will still be able to study in the UK through the Erasmus scheme up to and throughout 2020/21, when the current scheme ends.
The UK government has committed to negotiating access to the Erasmus+ successor programme.
In a no-deal Brexit, the EU Commission has said it will seek to continue funding Erasmus students who are in the UK at the point of Brexit.
Universities UK says that, deal or no deal, their members are working with their partner universities across the EU to make sure that student exchange can still take place regardless of the Brexit outcome.
According to Universities UK, EU students remain eligible to apply for UKRI-funded PhD scholarships starting in the academic year 2019/20 and UK universities are seeking confirmation that this will be the case under any Brexit scenario.
For up to date information log on to UKCISA, visit: www.ukcisa.org.uk
And Universities UK at: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk