The Government has regular contact with representatives of the higher education sector, and the Scottish Government, and will continue to consult with the relevant stakeholders during the course of our 12 month engagement with stakeholders on the UK’s future skills-based immigration system.
Securing a deal with the European Union remains the Government’s top priority. However, it is prudent to plan for every scenario
The Government has been consistently clear that once the UK has left the EU, free movement will end. In a no-deal scenario a temporary, transitional arrangement will be implemented until the future skills-based immigration system comes into force.
In this scenario, once free movement has ended, EEA citizens will still be able to enter the UK as they do now during the transition period, for an initial stay of up to three months and will be able to visit, work or study without applying for a visa. If EEA citizens want to stay in the UK for more than three months, they will need to apply in the UK within this time for European Temporary Leave to Remain, which may be granted for a further 36 months.
This arrangement should cater for the needs of the majority of international students. However, we do recognise that there are a number of students for whose studies are longer than three years, including some studying at Scottish universities.
In the event of no deal, EEA citizens wishing to come to the UK to study for more than three years could obtain European Temporary Leave to Remain and, at the conclusion of the period of leave, apply for a student visa under the future immigration system.
Alternatively, the student could apply at the outset for a Tier 4 visa under the existing system which would enable them to secure leave covering the entire duration of their studies. We have been very clear that there will continue to be no limit on the number of international students who can come to study in the UK.