The UK government has assured EU students applying to English higher education institutions for the 2017/18 academic year that they are still eligible for loans and grants, which will remain available to them until they finish their course.
The Department for Education said on Tuesday that they will honour the arrangement even if the UK officially exits the EU during that period.
This is an extension of the department’s earlier guarantee – shortly given after the EU referendum results were announced in June – that EU students currently studying at UK universities, as well as those applying for a place this academic year (2016/17), would continue to have access to financial aid for their studies.
Delighted to announce EU students applying to English unis for 17/18 will be eligible for loans/grants for duration of course in normal way
— Jo Johnson (@JoJohnsonMP) October 11, 2016
Universities Minister Jo Johnson said in a statement: “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.”
Under current student finance rules, EU students are eligible to receive undergraduate tuition fee loans if they have resided in the European Economic Area for at least 3 years prior to study.
EU nationals who have resided in the UK for over 5 years are also able to apply for undergraduate maintenance support and Master’s loans. Under EU law, EU students are also eligible for home fee status, meaning they are charged the same tuition fees as UK students.
We welcome government’s announcement on EU students’ eligibility for funding support for courses starting 2017-18 https://t.co/7IlaLFhMUc
— Universities UK (@UniversitiesUK) October 11, 2016
For many in the higher education sector, the guarantee provides much-needed clarity and reassurance.
In response to the announcement, Universities UK President Dame Julia Goodfellow said: “Every effort must now be made to ensure that this announcement is communicated effectively to prospective students across Europe.”
“Looking ahead, as the government develops plans [for] post-Brexit Britain, a commitment is needed to ensure that students, from Europe and beyond, are able to continue to come to the UK to study without unnecessary bureaucratic burdens,” she added.
— UCU (@ucu) October 11, 2016
University and College Union General Secretary, Sally Hunt, commented: “We are pleased the government has now clarified the situation for EU students who want to apply to English universities for next year and hope the devolved nations will soon follow suit.”
Hunt added that she hoped the government’s next step would be to guarantee the rights of the many EU nationals working in our universities, following the furor recently caused when a leading UK university said that the government had banned foreign academics from advising on Brexit negotiations.
Luke Nolan, co-founder and CEO of international student accommodation marketplace Student.com, welcomed the news, saying: “This is good news for EU students and for UK universities. It’s in the government’s interest to keep the doors open for international students, who help to support our world-class universities and bring many economic benefits for the country as a whole.
“The effect of a withdrawal from the EU on international student numbers is still uncertain, but the value that international students bring to UK universities is many-sided and should be carefully considered as part of the government’s Brexit strategy.”
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