The recently published International Education Strategy stated the government’s ambition to increase the number of international students hosted by UK universities to 600,000 by 2030, from 458,000 currently. The government is committed to this ambition regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the EU. We have made no estimate of the number of overseas students that will attend UK higher education institutions (HEIs) in the future.
The department recognises that prospective students and providers are concerned about what EU exit means for study and collaboration opportunities. To help give certainty, on May 28 2019, we announced guarantees on student finance for EU nationals. These guarantees are not altered if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. EU nationals (and their family members) who start a course in England in the 2020/21 academic year or before will continue to be eligible for ‘home fee’ status and student finance support from Student Finance England for the duration of their course provided they meet the residency requirement. We will provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2021/22 academic year and subsequent years in future.
We have also provided certainty for EU nationals wanting to come to the UK after Brexit. In the event that a deal is not agreed with the EU, arrangements for European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens arriving for 3 months or less after free movement ends will not look any different. To stay longer than 3 months during the transitional period, newly arrived EEA and Swiss citizens will need to apply for permission. Subject to identity and criminality checks, they will be given European Temporary Leave to Remain for a further 36 months. If EEA or Swiss citizens want to stay in the UK for longer than 36 months, for example to complete a 4-year course, they will need to apply and qualify for an immigration status under the main study routes of the UK’s new skills-based immigration system. Alternatively, EEA and Swiss citizens will be able to apply under Tier 4 of the Points Based System for a student visa to cover the full length of their course.