‘We continue to be open to all international students, including those from the EU, and we value the important contribution they make to our universities.’ - Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister

Here in the UK, a warm welcome is waiting for you.

The UK education sector is one of the most international in the world. Students and staff from the EU and beyond are extremely welcome. International students make an enormous contribution to the UK and the success of its education institutions. 

There's still time to study in the UK in the 2020-21 academic year. Visit our dedicated webpage for more information.

Does the UK leaving the European Union affect students from the EU?

If you’re from the EU, EEA-EFTA states or Switzerland, and you’re thinking of coming to study in the UK, there are a few practical things that might change as a result of the UK leaving the EU on 31 January 2020. These depend on when you arrive in the UK.

If you are an Irish national, these changes will not apply to you.

If you arrive in the UK before 31 December 2020, there’s very little that will change as long as you register for the EU Settlement Scheme. If you’re an EU citizen and you start living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

If you arrive from 1 January 2021 onwards, there will be some changes. Many of these are still subject to negotiations, but the UK government, the British Council and universities in the UK are working hard to make any new arrangements as simple as possible.

The main changes are: 

Arrive in the UK before 1 January 2021 No changes; apply for EU Settlement Scheme to stay longer than 30 June 2021 (if you want to remain in the UK beyond 30 June 2021 and keep ‘home fee status’ beyond this date)
Arrive in the UK after 1 January 2021 and start your course before 31 July 2021 Changes to immigration status, no changes to fee status
Arrive in the UK after 1 January 2021 and start your course after 1 August 2021 Changes to immigration status and fee status (for studies in England, Scotland and Wales)

More details on these changes are below.

Will EU students have to pay the same university fees as international students to study in the UK?

At present, EU students studying at a university or further education institution have ‘home fee status’ in the UK. This means that if you’re an EU student, you pay the same tuition fees as students from the part of the UK where your university is located (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales). If you study in Scotland as an undergraduate, your tuition fees are paid by Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). EU students studying in the rest of the UK as an undergraduate can apply for a student loan from the relevant student funding body to cover any tuition fees.

This won’t change if you start a course at a university or further education institution in the UK before July 2021. You will continue to be eligible for ‘home fee status’ – in other words, you will be charged the same tuition fees as UK students, and you can still apply for a student loan in England, Northern Ireland or Wales, or have your fees paid by SAAS if you are studying as an undergraduate in Scotland. 

If you’re an EU national, or from the EEA-EFTA states or Switzerland and have already started your course in the UK, you are also guaranteed your existing status for the duration of your studies. 

These guarantees apply for the full duration of your course, even if it finishes after 31 December 2020.

EU students and students from the EEA-EFTA or Switzerland who start a new course in England, Scotland or Wales after August 2021 will no longer be eligible for home fee status. Instead, each UK university will set its own fees for EU students.  Northern Ireland will announce arrangements in due course. If you’re thinking of starting a course in the UK from August 2021 onwards, you will need check with the university you are applying to for more information about fees they will charge. 

Students from the EU, EEA-EFTA or Switzerland who start new courses in England, Scotland or Wales after August 2021 will also no longer be eligible for student loans (Northern Ireland will announce arrangements in due course). However, there may be other forms of financial support you can apply for.  Find out more in Scholarships and funding.

Will EU students need a visa to study in the UK?

If you arrive in the UK before 1 January 2021, you will not need a visa. If you plan to stay in the UK longer than 1 January 2021 (for example, to complete your full course), you’ll need to apply online for the EU Settlement Scheme. The scheme is free of charge. You should apply as soon as possible after you’ve arrived in the UK, and by 30 June 2021.

If you plan to arrive in the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards, you will need to apply for a student visa if you are studying a course which is longer than six months in length. 

You will need to complete an application, pay an application fee (£348 for students), and have a current passport or other valid travel document.

Most people will be able to complete their application, including identity verification, using a smartphone app. If you can’t access the smartphone app or you don’t have a biometric passport, you may need to go to a Visa Application Centre in your country. 

You will also need to pay a fee called an Immigration Health Surcharge. This gives you access to the UK’s National Health Service. Students receive a 25 per cent discount on the usual cost of this surcharge. Details of costs will be available shortly.

You will be able to apply for a student visa up to six months before your course starts. 

Visa applications for EU and EEA students open on 5 October 2020. There’s more information on the GOV.UK website.

Can EU students still come to the UK on the Erasmus+ exchange programme?

The UK will continue to participate fully in the current Erasmus+ programme, which lasts until the end of 2020. Participants who study, train, volunteer or spend time abroad through Erasmus+ exchanges that were confirmed during the current programme (2014-2020) can participate fully and for the full duration of their exchange. This covers UK participants going abroad and international participants coming to the UK. The UK’s participation in future Erasmus+ programmes is part of discussions between the UK government and the EU and has not yet been finalised. 

The British Council, the Erasmus+ UK National Agency (British Council and Ecorys UK) and Universities UK are strongly supportive of continued and full UK participation in Erasmus+ after the UK leaves the European Union, so that UK and EU students can continue to benefit from Erasmus+ opportunities over the longer term.

For the most up-to-date information on Erasmus+, go to the UK National Agency website.

Do these changes apply to UK nationals living in EU countries?

UK nationals who live in EU countries, countries in the EEA-EFTA, or Switzerland will be eligible for home fees status if they start their studies in the UK before 1 January 2028. 

If you are a UK national and you’re thinking of studying in the UK, please contact the British Embassy in your country for more information about this announcement.

Can EU students stay and work in the UK after studies?

All international students in the UK – including EU students from January 2021 onwards – will be able to apply for the UK’s new Graduate Route to stay in the UK for two years after their degree (three years after completing a PhD) to work or look for work at any skills level. 

The route will be available in summer 2021 for those who have completed an undergraduate or master’s degree at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance. There’s more information about this on our post-study work opportunities page.

If you arrive in the UK before 1 January 2020, and you successfully apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, you have the right to live and work in the UK as part of your status. Find out more about this on the UK government website.

Where can I find more information?

We will continue to update this page regularly. For more information about starting your degree in 2020, including information about changes to study, support for international students, travel and more, visit our dedicated page

Sign up to our newsletter to receive updates about studying in the UK.

Please see below for additional official sources of information about UK higher education.

Further information

Student finance

For more information about EU nationals and student finance in the UK, please visit the following websites for each country to read their statement and check for any relevant updates.

England - Government statement and Student Loans Company

Scotland - Student Awards Agency Scotland

Wales - Student Finance Wales

Northern Ireland - Student Finance NI or NI Direct

Staying up to date

  • The UK Government official information for EU citizens in the UK is regularly updated on the Government website, GOV.UK
  • Follow latest news for university students on Twitter @StudyUKBritish 
  • Follow Erasmus news on Twitter @EUErasmusPlus or subscribe to the Erasmus+ Newsletter