University of Leicester students from the European Union, European Economic Area, or who are Swiss nationals, will not be asked to pay increased tuition fees when the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year.
The institution is the first to announce such a move, a little over a month before the end of the Brexit transition period.
From 11pm on December 31, European students studying in Britain will no longer benefit from EU legislation prohibiting discrimination on grounds of nationality.
Thus, instead of paying the same level of fees as their UK peers, EU students will now be considered international students.
As well as being charged full tuition and losing access to the tuition fee loan, they will also no longer be eligible for many needs-based fund.
Leicester’s fees freeze applies to both current EU students and those enrolling in the next academic year 2021/2022.
“I would have never been able to afford the higher fees” – Andrea Alvarez Lamas, a University of Leicester student from Spain
“The freeze sends a clear message that, although the UK has left the EU, the University of Leicester continues to position itself within the European education space,” said Professor Adam Cygan, professor of EU Law at the university’s law school.
“This decision should help to preserve the university’s long-established education networks with EU universities. [It] is important, not only for the purposes of recruitment, but because it recognises the wider cultural and social contribution that [EU students] make to our university environment.”
Nevertheless, added Cygan, the fees freeze is unlikely to fully shield the university from the impact of Brexit.
“With an end to freedom of movement and the introduction of a more restrictive points-based immigration system, the UK may no longer remain a first-choice destination for students who cannot automatically remain in the UK when they finish their studies,” he said.
“With only weeks to go until the end of the transition period, and without a UK-EU deal in place, there is a real possibility that, in the future, International Students Day will be celebrated by fewer EU students at the University of Leicester.”