Brexit. A mere 6 letter word, yet it has impacted every person living in the UK dramatically. Until the 31st December 2020, the transition period continues under which the UK still operates as it previously did, but as soon as 2021 hits, the new laws will start coming into effect. There are approximately 2.3 million students enrolled in higher education in the UK, all waiting to see how drastic the impact of Brexit will be. Until it happens, we cannot be certain, but here are some of the changes the Government has announced that will significantly impact students.
How tuition fees will change
Unless a student from an EU country, started university before 2021, they will have to pay as much as an International student does to come to a University in the UK. The average fee currently stands at £15,000 for International students, a jump from the £9,250 EU students previously have paid. Students that have deferred a year (to start in 2021 instead of 2020, even though their place was awarded in 2020) are included in this, as are EU students who have not been awarded settler status yet.
Having to apply for a student visa
If a student has moved to the UK before 31st December 2020, to stay beyond 30th June 2021, they will need to apply for the Settlement Scheme under which there will be no change and the student will carry on as if a Home student. A visa is needed if the student wants to study in the UK for more than 6 months, which will cost £348. UK students will also need visas to study in EU countries, as will any UK national wanting to stay for longer than 90 days. Short trips will not require a visa; however, more than 6 months should be left on the passport of the traveller (the same requirements as travelling to a non-EU country).
As with the visa, if an EU student has settler status, they will continue to be entitled to NHS healthcare as any other British student. The same applies to pre-settled status (if they have been in the UK for less than 5 years) however this is only applicable if the student has arrived before 31st December. From 1st January, an Immigration Health Surcharge has to be paid for access to the NHS, which is £470 for students as they will be entitled to a 25% discount. For UK students travelling to an EU country, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is also only valid until the 31st December; therefore it is advised that travel insurance is bought in advance.
Working as a post-graduate
The UK has a new Graduate Route under which international students can reside for 2 extra years after their degree (3 years if a PhD student) to find a job in the UK. As the EU is no longer ‘home’, EU students will also classify as International students, and therefore, can optimise this route. After 2 years, the EU student needs to be employed or will have to return to their respective country and apply for another visa. If the student has settled status (has arrived before 1st January 2021 for their course), they are entitled to living and working in the UK as any other UK student. For UK students wishing to work in EU countries, it would be the same as an international worker in those countries as the British right to work in EU countries will cease to exist. The immigration laws of the EU country will have to be followed to move after 31st December 2020. Any UK citizen working in the EU before the end of the transition period, however, will not see a change to their rights post Brexit.
From the 1st January 2021, the UK will no be part of the EU, leading to significant changes for students. EU students travelling to the UK will have a different immigration status, essentially becoming international students. The same will apply to UK students travelling to EU countries, who will have to follow the immigration laws of the country they wish to travel to study or work in. While the cost will not be as high as an international student for things like healthcare, tuition fees will be affected greatly. Luckily, a visa is not needed for travel less than 90 days so as long as you have 6 months on your passport (and the pandemic is over) that planned trip to Zante can still go ahead!