In May 2019, the UK government confirmed that tuition fees for EU nationals enrolling to study in the UK will not go up for the 2020/21 academic year. The announcement is especially important as the effects of Brexit on higher education in the country are still unclear.
Tuition fees in the UK
Universities in the United Kingdom typically have two categories of tuition fees – home fees and overseas fees. The distinction is also sometimes referred to as home student status and overseas student status. As of June 2019, this status is mostly determined by the nationality of incoming students, although some additional criteria are considered.
For example, if you are a European Union citizen or the spouse of an EU citizen (including British one), you might be eligible for home fee status in the United Kingdom. You must also have resided in the European Economic Area, Switzerland or qualifying overseas territories for at least three years before the start of your graduate programme. This means that you will be eligible to pay the same tuition fees as local students.
Prospective students who do not fulfil all of the requirements, which can be reviewed in full at the UK Council for International Student Affairs, need to be prepared to pay overseas fees. Following the decision of the UK to leave the European Union, we can expect changes in policies related to higher education in the country although they will not come into effect before the 2020/21 academic year. In any case, check with your university to determine what the latest developments are and whether they concern you.
Loans and other funding sources
When discussing home fee status, UK Universities minister Chris Skidmore confirmed that EU students starting their courses in 2020 “will remain eligible for undergraduate and postgraduate financial support, Advanced Learner loans, as well as FE and apprenticeships support”. As Masters degrees in the UK are sometimes considered pricey compared to other European destinations, it is important to take the financial factor into account early on.
There is a wide range of tuition fees that EU citizens can expect in the UK. The Master in Management at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is priced at GBP 9,500 while the one at Alliance Manchester Business School costs GBP 13,500. Fees can even reach GBP 32,500 for Management students at London Business School undertaking their full-time course. This can be a lot to take care of, even for EU citizens. However, with the help of scholarship applications, loans, or bursaries, tuition fees can be downsized and become more manageable.
Loans taken out to pay your tuition always have to be repaid later on. Although taking a loan can sometimes be unavoidable, start by researching scholarship opportunities available at your university of choice as those are non-repayable sources of funding. However, keep in mind that merit scholarships are usually very competitive. Many talented Masters aspirants like you will be vying for a very limited number of available spots. Still, there might be other possibilities to reduce your study costs such as the Alumni Loyalty Scheme Discount at NTU. Undergraduates at this UK university, whether they are EU nationals or not, may be eligible to receive up to 25% fee reduction if they also choose to pursue their postgraduate degree at the school.
If you find it difficult to get a scholarship, you can still rely on graduate loans to cover your tuition fees. The Advanced Learner Loan, which will remain available for EU nationals in 2020 regardless of Brexit developments, is one option. This loan is allocated for courses in England and is not available for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. However, the good news is that your eligibility does not depend on family income. Be sure to check the full list of requirements and all relevant details on the UK government website and be ready with a repayment strategy so as to avoid hanging student debt.
Why is the news important?
As Universities UK chief executive Alistair Jarvis told The PIE News: “EU students make an important contribution to our universities, enriching our campuses culturally and academically.” About 138,000 non-UK EU students enrol in postgraduate courses in the country per academic year. Although the number is not as high as the one represented by international aspirants from outside the EU, these prospective students are a vital addition to the academic, economic, and social landscape of the UK.
As England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are preparing for the transition of leaving the European Union by 31 October 2019, the consequences for the rest of the academic world are largely unclear. However, UK officials have promised that any changes within the higher education sector, including revised tuition fees for non-UK EU residents, will be communicated in advance. “The government will provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2021/2022 academic year and subsequent years in future,” it announced in a statement on the department for education website.
In a nutshell, if you are planning to get your degree in the United Kingdom, you can expect no significant Brexit-related challenges in the coming years. Still, it is useful to stay informed, so check back for the latest news on the topic once you start preparing your Masters application.