“A lot of people are not aware of this concession that we won, within the UK in EU community and amongst admissions tutors in the UK,” British in Europe co-chair Fiona Godfrey told Delano on Tuesday, adding: “I am in contact with Universities UK and they are in contact with the Department of Education (as are we indirectly) to try to get a clearer statement from them. We hope that this will clarify the situation for UK universities and for UK nationals on this side of the Channel.”
Under article 14 of the Department for Exiting the European Union’s last policy paper on citizens’ rights-UK nationals in the EU, it states:
“UK nationals, previously resident in England, who are living in the EEA or Switzerland, who wish to study in England, will continue to be eligible for home fee status and student support from Student Finance England for a seven-year transition period. They will also have access to Further Education 19+ courses and apprenticeships in England for that period. In a no deal scenario, the seven-year transition period will commence at the end of the Implementation Period.”
The clarification is important for cash-strapped students who may reconsider studying in the UK if they mistakenly believe they’ll have to pay international student fees. According to specialist press the Times Higher Education, annual home student fees are currently capped at £9,250. When Britain leaves the EU, international student fees for a lecture-based bachelor’s degree vary from £10,000-£26,000. An undergraduate medication degree can cost overseas students up to £56,600 per year.
Message not getting out
The message has clearly not filtered through to all UK university staff. A UK EFL teacher and private tutor living in France, Michelle James, posted recently on Facebook that during a webinar, a representative from a prestigious UK university said he was not sure that British citizens living in the EU after 2021 would be eligible for home fees. She wrote: “A British pupil actually asked if he deferred to 2021, would home fees apply and the representative said that it’s still under discussion but he couldn’t be sure.”
And Universities UK, a platform representing the voice of UK universities, also does not spell out the concession on its site, something which British in Europe and the British Immigrants Living in Luxembourg (Brill) groups are following up on.
Graham Jarvis, chair of the British Immigrants Living in Luxembourg group put the fact the information had not been clearly communicated down to the general Brexit process, in which “slow, incomplete, unclear and therefore potentially misleading information abounds and the rapid replication on social media does nothing to reassure.”