The government has today (11 October 2016) announced that EU students applying for a place at an English university or further education institution in the 2017 to 2018 academic year will continue to be eligible for student loans and grants - and will be for the duration of their course.
The decision will mean that students applying to study from 2017 to 2018 will not only be eligible for the same funding and support as they are now, but that their eligibility will continue throughout their course, even if the UK exits the European Union during that period.
The move will help give universities and colleges certainty over future funding, while assuring prospective students applying to study at one of the UK’s world leading universities that they will not have the terms of their funding changed if the UK leaves the EU during their studies. The same assurance will be available for EU students studying in further education.
Today’s announcement follows assurances given by the government in June shortly after the EU referendum result. This included immediate guarantees that students currently in higher or further education, and those applying for a place this year (2016 to 2017) would continue to be able to access student funding support - including loans and grants - under the current eligibility criteria.
Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:
We know that the result of the referendum brought with it some uncertainties for our higher education sector. That is why in June we acted quickly to provide immediate funding guarantees for existing students and those applying to study this year.
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.
We are also taking steps, through our Higher Education Bill, to maintain the world status of our universities while delivering students value for money and choice and employers the skills they need to help our economy grow.
Under current student finance rules, EU students are eligible to receive undergraduate tuition fee loans and Master’s 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. Similarly, under EU law, EU students are also eligible for home fee status, which means they are charged the same tuition fees as UK students. Other non-EU, international students do not have their tuition fees capped in this way.
Today’s confirmation will mean that for EU nationals, or their family members, who are applying for a place at university from August 2017 to study a course that attracts student support, the current funding rules will remain unchanged. All applicants will be eligible for student loans and/or grants under the current terms and, if deemed eligible, will be able to receive those for the duration of their course.
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.
Assurances for higher education set out by the government to date
Existing students and students applying for the 2016 to 2017 academic year
EU students currently in higher or further education, who are eligible under current rules to receive loans and grants from the Student Loans Company will continue to do so for the courses they are currently enrolled on or about to start this coming year. This includes loans to cover tuition fees (for those resident in the EEA for at least 3 years), loans and maintenance support (for those resident in the UK for at least 3 years or who are EEA migrant workers), and some other grants and allowances.
Students beginning study in the 2017 to 2018 academic year
The rules applying to EU nationals, or their family members, who are applying to study a course which starts in the 2017 to 2018 academic year and which attracts student support, are also unchanged. Student Finance England (SFE) will assess these applications against existing eligibility criteria, and will provide loans and/or grants in the normal way.
EU nationals, or their family members, who are assessed as eligible to receive grants and/or loans by the SFE will then be eligible for this support and for home fee status for the duration of their study. These eligibility criteria set out that for students beginning study from August 2017, EU nationals must have been resident in the UK for at least 5 years or be EEA migrant workers in order to apply for a maintenance loan.
As outlined by the chancellor in August the government has guaranteed that where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects, while we are still a member of the EU - for example universities participating in Horizon 2020 - the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.