This page provides regularly updated information about what the UK’s departure from the European Union means for students from EU countries.
Universities UK International (UUk) briefing note on continued higher education and research collaboration through European Union programmes
UK and European institutions have a strong history of collaborating through EU higher education and research and innovation programmes. Despite the uncertainty created by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, it is vital to note that at present there is no change to UK’s status in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020. Therefore, we would like to encourage European universities to continue to pursue collaborative research and student exchange opportunities with UK counterparts. UK universities remain strongly committed to strengthening their valuable links with European institutions and researchers. We urge European universities and researchers to continue to work with and collaborate with UK partners to ensure that these strong foundations are preserved.
Phase One Agreement and the Implications for Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+
On 8 December 2017, the UK Government and the EU negotiators published a joint report on the progress made during phase one of negotiations of the UK’s exit from the EU. Marking the conclusion of the first phase of the negotiations, the report addresses citizens’ rights, the Irish border, and the financial settlement. Regarding the latter, the UK and the EU have agreed that the UK will continue to pay into the EU budget until the end of the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) in 2020 on the same terms as a full Member State. This means that there will be no change the UK’s status in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ until 2021 at the earliest. The UK remains fully eligible to apply for and receive funding in all parts of Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+.
The joint report also outlines that the EU and the UK will “agree to simplified procedures so as to avoid unnecessary administrative burdens extending well beyond the end of the current MFF”. This ensures that projects requiring funding beyond the end of the programmes in 2020 would continue to be appropriately managed and funded, ensuring that they can proceed as planned without disruption.
The UK’s relationship with the successor programmes of Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ beyond 2020 will not be clarified until those programmes have been finalised. Nonetheless, Universities UK has set out the view of our members that the UK’s interest would be best served by continuing to participate in them. We are engaging closely with EU stakeholders and actively participating in the policy development process for the successor programmes for Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+. Universities UK will contribute to the public consultation for the next framework programme and the discussions on the Erasmus+ successor programme.
The joint report outlines the residency rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK and of UK nationals living in other EU countries. The cut-off for EU nationals to be covered by the withdrawal agreement is the date the UK leaves the EU (29 March 2019) meaning that anyone residing in the UK on or before this date will be covered. The UK and 27 EU Member States can require those concerned
to apply to obtain status conferring the rights of residence and be issued with a residence document. EU nationals living in the UK will be able to apply for ‘settled status’ if they have been a resident in the UK for five years. They can do so when the application portal opens. This is likely to be towards the end of 2018 and it will remain open for at least two years. EU nationals who have been in the UK for less than that, are entitled to remain in the UK to build up five years residency and then apply. Those with settled status will be able to leave the UK for up to five years without losing their status. The UK government is seeking to make this process as light touch as possible.
UK Government Financial Guarantees
One caveat applies to the issues agreed to in the joint report, which is that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, referring to the fact that the second phase of exit negotiations – on the transition period and the future UK-EU relationship – has the potential to influence the UK’s withdrawal agreement.
In the unlikely event of significant changes to the above agreed terms, or a no-deal scenario, the UK Government has committed to guarantee all successful bids made by UK applicants to Horizon 2020 while the UK is still an EU Member State. This means that European researchers can continue to apply for Horizon 2020 funding for joint research projects with UK partners until 29 March 2019 in complete confidence that the funding will not be affected by the UK’s departure. See also our Q&A for more information.
Similarly, students at UK and European universities remain eligible to participate in Erasmus+ exchanges until the point of exit. To provide further clarity for universities and students, the UK Government has confirmed that it will guarantee grant agreements for successful Erasmus+ bids signed while the UK is still an EU Member State, even if they are not approved until after the UK leaves and/or payments continue beyond the point of the exit in March 2019. This means that UK universities and students studying at UK universities can prepare for participation as usual for the 2018-19 and the 2019-20 academic year.
Breakthrough in Brexit negotiations and implications for universities: UK will continue to be a part of Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ until the end of the programmes
The UK Government and the EU negotiators have come to an agreement on phase one of the negotiations on the UK’s exit from the European Union. This agreement details that “the UK will continue to participate in the Union programmes financed by the EU budget 2014-2020 until their closure”.
The UK Government has stated publicly that the United Kingdom is committed to continuing full participation in the Erasmus+ programme up until the UK leaves the European Union. The Government has now agreed a fair financial settlement with the EU enabling it to move to the next stage of negotiations. With the caveat that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, in principle the UK will continue to benefit from all EU programmes, including Erasmus+, until the end of the current budget plan (2014-2020).
In the unlikely event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, the Government guarantee already made still stands, and successful Erasmus+ applications which are submitted while the UK is still a Member State, even if they are not approved until after the UK leaves, can continue beyond the point of exit. The guarantee applies to funding allocated to UK organisations, whether in applications submitted to Brussels (centralised) or to a National Agency (decentralised), whether or not the UK is the lead partner. Applications for Higher Education submitted before the exit date will include mobility in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 academic years.
Practical details regarding how this would be implemented will be discussed with the Department for Education (the UK’s Erasmus+ National Authority) over the coming months.
Immigration Rules change for T4 student visa (non UK or EU applicants)
Legislation was laid in Parliament, which sets out a number of changes to the immigration rules. These will come into effect from 28 December 2017, with the majority of the changes taking effect on 11 January 2018.
There are a number of changes being made to the Short-Term Study (STS) route. These will affect anyone wishing to come to the UK to study a short course of up to six months, or an English language course of up to 11 months. Find out more here.
Part-time study at post-graduate level will be allowed under Tier 4. However, Tier 4 students studying part-time courses will not have work rights, cannot bring dependants and are not able to extend their stay.
The maintenance requirements for Tier 4 (General) students who are applying to study at a residential Independent School are being aligned with the Tier 4 (Child) requirements. The additional funds for living costs no longer need to be evidenced, as these will have already been accounted for in the boarding fees paid by the student which include both course and lodging fees.
Work rights for dependants
An amendment is being made to allow work rights for dependants of Tier 4 students to be retained. This will apply if the Tier 4 applicant is applying to continue to study the same course at degree level or above.
An exemption has been made to the rules on academic progression to allow students to apply for leave to remain from within the UK. This will allow students to:
• complete a work placement or a study abroad programme; or
• complete their course after having completed a work placement or study abroad programme.
Find out more here.
Skilled work visas
Find out more here.