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EU students may be charged more to study at English universities post-Brexit

Tuition fees for EU students studying at English universities to remain at domestic students rate. Source: Shutterstock

EU students currently studying in England pay the same fees as domestic students, but this could soon change after Brexit.

A BuzzFeed report said Education Secretary Damian Hinds is proposing to withdraw home fee status and financial support from EU students starting courses in the 2021/2022 academic year, whether Britain leaves the union with or without a deal.

While the UK government asserts that no decision has been made about whether to make EU students pay higher tuition fees at English universities, if the proposal is passed, EU students would pay the same for tuition as international students from non-EU countries and may lose access to student loans.

Forbes notes that “existing fees for UK students on an undergraduate degree are £9,250 (US$11,940) a year, while fees for non-EU international students vary between courses and institutions but range from £10,500 (US$13,550) to £37,700 (US$48,670), or as much as £58,600 (US$75,650) for a medical degree.”

Meanwhile, Head of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) Nick Hillman said: “Ever since the referendum, it’s been highly likely that EU students would come to face the higher fees charged to those from other countries. Morally, it would be exceedingly hard to defend charging richer Germans less than poorer Indians if we are not in the EU,” reported The Guardian.

“But fee levels are only part of the picture. EU students can currently take out loans with the Student Loans Company to pay their fees and the loans don’t need to be repaid until later on. Losing access to the loans matters as much as the headline fee, because suddenly they will have to find the money upfront.”

A hostile approach?

Critics argue that the fee hike would cause more harm than good, adding that the proposal could deter EU students from studying at English universities.

Speaking to The Guardian, Sheffield University lecturer Jo Grady said the policy would be an extension of the “hostile environment” masterminded by the Home Office under Theresa May.

“As with many other aspects of the EU, this government has never welcomed EU students and never appreciated the many reciprocal benefits we get from the agreement to charge them home fees, including the benefit of enabling our own students to study in the EU more cheaply or for free,” she said.

Meanwhile, Labour’s Angela Rayner has accused the government of “building walls” between top British universities and the EU, said the BBC. Meanwhile, Tom Brake of the Liberal Democrats warned that the EU would likely reciprocate, meaning only the richest from the UK could study abroad.

MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas Tweeted: “EU students make a vital contribution to our higher education sector, which needs to plan *now* for 2020-21. I have pressed Ministers on this issue already, and will continue to fight for the reciprocal right of our young people to study in the EU.”

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