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Response to the announcement on fees and loans for EU students in England from 2021

  • 23 June 2020

Responding to today’s announcement on tuition fees and loans for EU students in England from 2021/22, Nick Hillman, the Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (, said:

Today’s announcement will be seen as bad news inside universities. To date, EU students have benefited from lower fees and access to student loans that are subsidised by UK taxpayers. Together, these have lowered the financial obstacles to studying in the UK. My message to any EU citizen wishing to benefit from the current arrangements is that it is not too late to apply for entry in 2020, before the new rules come into force next year.

In the past, we have shown that higher fees and no more access to student loans could risk a decline of around 60% in the number of EU students coming to the UK to study. If that happens, our universities will be less diverse and less open to influences from other countries.

However, it is morally and legally difficult to continue charging lower fees to EU citizens than we already charge to people from the rest of the world once Brexit has taken full effect. So today’s decision is not a huge surprise. Moreover, history suggests that the education on offer in our universities is something people are willing to pay for. So, if we adopt sensible post-Brexit migration rules and if universities work very hard to recruit from other EU nations, it is likely that many of our fellow Europeans will still wish to study here.

Above all, we need to make it abundantly clear to people from the EU and beyond that our universities remain open to all.

Notes for Editors

  1. In a Written Statement to Parliament dated 23 June 2020, Michelle Donelan, the Minister for Universities, said: ‘Following our decision to leave the EU, EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22. This change will also apply to Further Education funding for those aged 19+, and funding for apprenticeships.’ (Source:
  2. HEPI and Kaplan International previously commissioned London Economics to consider the impact of changes to fees and loans for EU students after Brexit. The determinants of international demand for UK higher education found that harmonising the rules for EU and non-EU students would be likely to reduce enrolments from other EU countries by 57%.
  3. In 2019, HEPI separately published Two sides of the same coin? Brexit and future student demand by Nick Hillman, which also considered the historical precedent of the end of subsidies for non-European students and concluded: ‘It is unfortunate that our economic modelling and the clearest historical precedent point in opposite directions. No one can know for certain which is a better guide to the future, especially when the details of Brexit remain vague. But, while there is almost no one in the higher education sector who would have wished for the Brexit discussions to have gone the way they have in the past few years, what happens to the relative attractiveness of UK higher education institutions after Brexit is partly, at least, in the control of individual institutions and the sector as a whole.’
  4. The Higher Education Policy Institute was established in 2002 to shape the higher education policy debate with evidence. It is a non-partisan charity funded by organisations and universities that wish to see a vibrant higher education debate.


  1. Kot Nablacie says:

    “Moreover, history suggests that the education on offer in our universities is something people are willing to pay for.”

    No one in their right mind would pay ripoff fees in order to study in a country with high rates of Coronavirus. The biggest losers here are British nationals who will lose their free movement rights on the European continent. They will enjoy a similar status to blacks under apartheid.

  2. Denise Baines says:

    History is not a good indicator when things are changing so rapidly. Undergraduate programmes in English are exploding across Europe. EU students now have opportunities that are far more appealing and cost-effective than paying UK international fees. The biggest names in UK universities will still have plenty of applicants, but the rest will suffer serious losses. In addition, the UK universities who previously received massive EU grants for research will now be competing for the local funds and so research will suffer. In the years to come our world-class universities may become far less significant on the world stage than previously.

  3. CHRISTOS says:

    It is a hostile act by the UK government against not only EU but against young Europeans and their families in the middle of their preparation to enter to the UK universities,who suffered economically at their expense for many years only because they looked up and looked forward to coming to the well known UK Universities and enhance the UK economic and social life with excellence. Brexiteers will not forfeit our futures only the future of UK.

  4. Lukasz says:

    I have lived in UK for 18 years, paying all taxes, my son arrived in the UK when he was 10 months old, went to school here, and now he will not be able to get student loans despite of the fact he has been the resident of the UK almost all his life.

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