Government pledges student loans for EU students starting courses in 2017
On 11 October, the Department for Education announced that EU students applying for undergraduate courses starting next year will receive student loans covering the tuition fees for their whole degree, regardless of Brexit.
Under current regulations, full tuition fee funding is available for all UK and EU students for the duration of their undergraduate degrees. The fees are now capped at £9,000 per year, but this will increase to £9,250 in 2017–18 under Government proposals, and thereafter will go up in line with inflation for universities deemed to meet certain teaching and research standards. Oxford – along with many other universities – has already announced that fees for next year will go up once the Higher Education Bill is passed through Parliament, as the Oxford Student reported last week.
UK students can rest assured that their fees will still be covered by loans from the Student Loan Company, but EU students have been concerned that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will mean they will have to make up-front payments and meet higher fees without Government support. Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, said that the Government recognises the uncertainty caused by Brexit and has announced a commitment to covering the fees of EU students entering undergraduate courses in 2017–18. The fees will also remain capped in line with UK students.
Mr Johnson went on to say that “International students make an important contribution to our world-class universities, and we want that to continue. This latest assurance that students applying to study next year will not only be eligible to apply for student funding under current terms, but will have their eligibility maintained throughout the duration of their course, will provide important stability for both universities and students.”
Although this will offer some reassurance to prospective EU students for now, longer-term proposals are still being discussed and future funding arrangements are not clear. The Department of Education said: “The migration status of EU nationals in the UK is being discussed as part of wider discussions with the EU as the government works on reaching an agreement protecting the status of EU nationals here and our citizens in Europe.”