By Hannah Vickers
The UK Government has confirmed that funding support for EU students applying in 2017 and 2018 will continue despite Brexit.
Students from the EU applying to study in the UK in 2017 and 2018 will be guaranteed funding throughout the entirety of their course and will be entitled to the same benefits as UK nationals during their studies.
The University Alliance welcomed the decision, which will give universities across the country more time to deal with the implications of the Brexit vote on the HE sector.
University Alliance Chief Executive Maddalaine Ansell said that the continued funding will be a relief for students considering studying in the UK next year. ‘It shows that we want bright minds to come to Britain to enrich our culture and support local businesses up and down the country,” she said.
“It will also help to promote our world-class education system abroad. We look forward to working with government to ensure the message that Britain remains open and welcoming to international students carries weight.”
Currently, EU students who have lived in the European Economic Area for at least three years are eligible for undergraduate fee loans and students who have lived in the UK for more than five years are able to apply for undergraduate maintenance support and master’s loans. EU students also benefit from capped tuition fees, and are charged the same as UK students for their courses.
Universities Minister Jo Johnson said that the decision would give prospective students much-needed stability during the uncertainty of post-Brexit Britain.
“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,” she said.
The decisions comes after three months of lobbying by universities and has been well received by HE institutions throughout the UK.
Director General of the Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt was pleased with the news.
“Today’s announcement provides very welcome assurances to prospective EU students applying for courses starting in 2017/18 that they will be eligible for grants and loans for the duration of their course,” she said.
The Russell Group represents 24 leading UK universities. It had been working closely with the government to make the transition as smooth as possible for students and staff in the HE sector.
“Our universities are world-leading centres of academic excellence and compete on the global stage for the best and brightest students. European and international students make a vital contribution to our universities and UK society as a whole. We will continue to work with the Government to develop a system which supports legitimate students who want to study here,” added Piatt.