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EU flag over Union Jack

 by Mark Bennett
, posted on 29 Mar '17

Article 50, Brexit & EU Postgraduates - an Updated FAQ for 2017

As the UK begins its 'Brexit' negotiations with the EU, we've revised our popular FAQ for postgraduate students. We'll continue to expand this information as more details emerge, as well as providing regular updates via our newsletter.

We've also put together separate advice on postgraduate issues and the 2017 general election.

The UK has now triggered Article 50 and begun the process of leaving the EU. But what does this mean for students and particularly postgraduates?

We've updated our detailed Brexit FAQ for Masters and PhD students, addressing issues such as tuition fees, Research Council funding and Postgraduate Loans.

What does Article 50 mean for international students?

In the short term, not a lot. Fee and funding guarantees were originally put in place for 2017 and have now been extended to the 2018-19 academic year. EU students will therefore be free to study in the UK as 'normal' until at least 2019.

Can I begin a Masters or PhD in the UK as an EU student in 2017?

Yes. The UK will still be an EU member in 2017 and students from other European Union countries will be able to study here without a visa next year.

What about 2018 and beyond?

EU students will have the right to live and study in the UK without a visa until Brexit is complete. This isn't expected to happen until 2019.

Will fees increase for EU students?

You'll pay the same 'domestic' fees as a UK student. You won't pay higher international fees.

The exact cost of a Masters or PhD will still vary between courses. However, the price you pay will be the same as a UK student on the same course.

These guarantees apply until 2018-19, but may differ slightly between individual UK countries.

Can EU students apply for a Masters loan in 2017?

Yes. Masters loans will be available across the UK in 2017, and EU students will be able to apply for support in England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.

Your entitlement to postgraduate loan funding will last for the duration of your Masters, regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU in the meantime.

Will EU students be able to apply for PhD loans in 2018?

Possibly. The latest updates on the plans for £25,000 PhD loans suggest that EU students may be eligible. The Government will provide more information ahead of the 2018-19 academic year.

Can EU students apply for Research Council PhD funding?

Yes. The UK Government has confirmed that Research Council studentships will continue to be available to EU students beginning a research degree in the 2017-18 or 2018-19 academic year.

Most Research Council awards are intended for PhD students, but some Masters funding is available. Note that EU students are usually only eligible for fees-only grants.

As with other funding, this support will cover your entire course.

Can EU students study part time?

Yes. You won't need a student visa as an EU postgraduate next year. This means there will be no overall restrictions on your mode of study, or the duration of your degree.

Bear in mind that eligibility for funding and support may come with some restrictions. Masters loans in England, for example, are only available for part-time courses lasting up to four years.

What happens if Brexit takes place during my course?

Fee and funding guarantees apply for the duration of your degree programme.

Provided you begin your course by the end of the 2017-18 academic year (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) or by the end of the 2018-19 academic year (in England) you will pay the same fees and be eligible for the same funding throughout your Masters or PhD.

This applies even if the UK leaves the EU whilst you are studying.

Will I be able to work in the UK after I graduate?

EU citizens currently have the right to live and work in the UK without restriction. This applies to graduates of Masters and PhD programmes along with other jobseekers.

If you complete your degree whilst Britain is still an EU member, you will be able to seek work as normal. However, your ongoing right to work in the UK will depend on the terms of the UK's 'Brexit' negotiations with the European Union. It is not yet clear what these will be.

Guarantees have been offered to EU citizens who are still studying in the UK after Brexit. These don't extend to EU workers, but it's possible that arrangements may be made for those who are already working in the UK and / or recent graduates.

More information will become available in future.

Do guarantees also apply to EEA and Swiss students?

Students the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) share some of the same free-movement rights as those from the EU. The same also applies to students from Switzerland.

Some restrictions apply. EEA and Swiss students must normally be working in the UK, have sought work in the UK. Alternatively, they must have a family member who has worked or sought work in the UK.

Guarantees for EU students in 2017-18 do not specifically refer to EEA and Swiss nationals. More information may be available in future. In the meantime, you should confirm your fee and finance circumstances prior to your course.

Will UK students still be able to study in the EU?

Yes. The UK will continue to be an EU member until the Brexit negotiations are complete. This should apply until 2019, at least.

During this time you'll still be able to study abroad in the EU without a visa and should benefit from existing fee and funding arrangements.

Of course, specific guidelines may vary across countries so ensure you check with your university. Our guides to Masters and PhD study in Europe are a good place to start.

What will happen to Erasmus funding for postgraduates?

Nothing, immediately. The UK will have full involvement in Erasmus+ funding and projects until it leaves the EU, as has been confirmed by both the Erasmus+ UK National Agency and the European Commission.

This means that UK and EU students will be able to study Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degrees, apply for an Erasmus+ Masters Loan or receive PhD funding through Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. Your eligibility for this support should last for the duration of your course.

Where can I find out more current about guarantees for EU students in the UK?

All four UK countries have offered their own guarantees to EU students:

  • England has confirmed fee and funding eligibility for EU students beginning a Masters or PhD by 2018-19.
  • Wales has offered its own assurances to EU students for 2017-18.
  • Northern Ireland has also assured EU students of support for degree programmes beginning in 2017-18.
  • Scotland has issued a statement through its Student Awards Agency for Scotland, offering similar guarantees for 2017-18. Further guarantees have also been made for EU undergraduates studying in Scotland from 2018-19. However, this has not yet been confirmed for postgraduates.

These guarantees apply to fees charged and funding offered within each UK country. Specific support systems may still have their own eligibility restrictions.

We'll be keeping an eye on what Brexit means for EU postgraduates. You can stay updated on this blog and via our regular newsletter.

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