EU Referendum: what we know for EU students

Last modified: 12 December 2016

Current and future EU students and family members will obviously be concerned about various possible consequences of the EU Referendum decision. This page aims to clarify what we currently do and do not know about any changes to fee status, access to loans or legal residency.

Please note that this is our current understanding, drawn from various sources, but precise aspects of law may still be subject to debate and clarification. Students are advised to check their own position on:

  • student finance, with the appropriate agencies; and 
  • fee status eligibility, with the institution at which they are studying or intending to study.

Legal residency and work

  • It is important to note that there are, as yet, no changes whatsoever to the residency rules which affect EU students’ right to come and stay in the UK – although clearly there could be consequences over the much longer term. 
  • The right to reside, study, and work, in the UK remains as long as the UK remains a member state of the EU, which will be for at least another two years. You can read further information about staying on after study.

Student finance

The funding bodies in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, have all given reassurances to EU nationals about continuing student finance eligibility:

Fee status

  • The October 2016 announcement in England also confirmed that EU nationals (and their family members) who start studying in 2017/18, and who are assessed as eligible for loans/grants, will be eligible for Home fee status for the duration of their study. And Scotland have confirmed that tuition fee support will be provided in the normal way (see above, under 'Student finance').
  • It was already our understanding that a number of universities are guaranteeing that fee status will not be reassessed for the duration of the course for those who started in 2016/17, even if the UK leaves the EU before their courses end, and students will continue to be charged the Home/EU rate rather than the higher Non-EU rate.
  • You should contact your institution directly to confirm its policy but there is clearly an intention and commitment from institutions to do whatever is in their power to enable as many EU students as possible to continue to study in the UK, in the future.

Please check back regularly for up-to-date information.

UKCISA priorities and concerns over Brexit

Please read the seven principles and proposals that UKCISA has put forward to address the extensive concerns about the effect of Brexit on the continued mobility of international students – including young academics and researchers – and in particular on the position of EU and EEA nationals and their dependants who are currently in the UK

Download a pdf of the principles and proposals.

After the EU referendum

Last modified: 20 February 2017

Currently the UK remains a member of the European Union (EU) and, therefore, there is no immediate change to the position of EEA nationals in the UK. Therefore, students and their family members can continue to exercise their residency rights in the UK.

The Home Office published a statement providing information on the status of EU nationals currently in the UK. This includes some information about the right of permanent residence and UK citizenship. The Home Office has confirmed that from 1 August 2016 applications for naturalisation as a British citizen which do not include a document certifying the right of permanent residence will be refused.

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2016-17 is currently being negotiated in the Houses of Parliament. The UK will not give formal notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU until this Bill has been passed and become and Act of Parliament. If the UK gives notification, the process to leave the EU is likely to take a minimum of two years. The position of EEA nationals in the UK remains unchanged throughout this time.

We do not yet know exactly what the future implications for residency will be for EEA nationals and their family members who wish to come to, or remain in, the UK to study. This will depend on how the UK and EU might agree to deal with transitional arrangements about the position of current and new students. The Free Movement blog has posted a briefing entitled Rights to Remain after Brexit which considers the rights of EU nationals in the UK should the UK leave the European Union.  Migrants' Rights Network hosted a Q&A session to help provide some information and advice to EU nationals in the UK. In addition, the Free Movement blog has posted a Brexit Q&A podcast on it's forum to help answer questions which have arisen since the UK's decision to leave the EU.

We will continue to publish relevant information here as soon as it becomes available.