Studying in the UK Post Brexit

The UK has one of the most international education sectors in the world, being the second most popular international student destination after the US. A statistically significant 22% of the UK student population in 2019/2020 was made up of overseas students, 143,000 of these being from the EU and 395,600 from elsewhere.

However, EU student numbers in the UK have fallen in recent times, down  by 13.2% in 2020, at the same time non-EU International student numbers rose by 2%. While delays in EU exams due to the Covid pandemic were partly to blame for the drop in EU intakes, it is no doubt that the UK’s decision  to leave the EU will, at least temporarily, impact the number of EU students moving to study in the UK.

According to Forbes, the number of European Union students at UK universities is predicted to fall by over a half, while universities are forecasted to lose an estimated  £62.5 million per year in tuition fees as a result of Brexit.

To reduce the uncertainties regarding Brexit’s impact on EU students and on university intakes, Kampus Group have reviewed the Brexit’s implications on the UK education industry and what is to be expected by students and by universities.

Brexit is the term used to describe the UK’s departure from the European Union. This officially took place on 31 January 2020 on the basis of an agreement made with the EU known as the withdrawal agreement.

Following this agreement, European state members, including students who are entering the UK after the date upon which the withdrawal agreement took place, must now apply for immigration permission.

EU students wishing to study for a year or longer must apply for a student visa or child student visa, while students wishing to study between 6-11 months must apply for a short term study visa, while EU nationals wishing to study in the UK for 0-6 months do not need a visa. To check if you require a visa click here.

Another change which will be impacting EU students wishing to start their course in England, Wales or Scotland after August 2021 is that they will no longer be eligible to pay home fee status (the same fee paid by a UK national) and will to pay the EU fee determined separately by each institution. These can be checked on individual university websites.

While this was not previously required, EU students entering the UK after 1 January 2021 will need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge.

Moreover, EU students entering the UK for the 2021 academic year are no longer eligible to apply for UK student finance, although achievement and income based bursaries and scholarships are still available to EU students. Those who entered the UK before this period will continue to receive student finance until the end of their course.

Students who will not be influenced by the withdrawal agreement include EU and swiss nationals already studying in the UK, students who will arrive in the UK after 1 January 2021 and will start studying before the 31 July 2021, Irish students living in the UK, and those who are eligible to apply for the EU settlement scheme for which the deadline to apply is 30th June 2021. Read more about this here. 

To summarize the factors impacting EU students wishing to study in the UK following Brexit:

  • They will need to apply for a short-term study visa if staying in the UK for longer than 6 months, and a student/child student visa if planning to study for a year or longer
  • EU students will have their own university fee categories and will no longer be able to pay home student fees
  • EU students will no longer be eligible for UK student finance

Although studying in the UK will pose as a greater challenge for EU students than in previous years, we also expect to witness some advantages for both EU and non-EU international students:

  • There will be decreased competition for university places, meaning that students who are financially capable to pay the new increased tuition fees may have a greater chance at entering their university of choice
  • Universities will set EU student fees independently, thus students will be able to choose an institution that fits their budget
  • Scholarships and bursaries will still be available to EU students
  • The visa application process for EU students is incredibly simple, and can usually be completed online in a few easy steps
  • Non-EU international students will have a greater chance of entering UK universities due to decreased competition for university places

Universities will be impacted differently by Brexit based on their own configurations. According to the Centre on Constitutional change, the percentage of staff from EU nations, EU students, and the amount of funding from EU resources will differ depending on each university. Universities receiving more research grants, for example, may be more heavily impacted as less domestic money is made available. It’s therefore important for universities to develop their own contingency plans.

Some alternative options which universities may wish to take is:

  • Onboarding a greater proportion of non-EU international students
  • Reducing the hard-hit impact on EU students by simplifying their visa and application process
  • Working with agents like Kampus Group to help that help students understand the UK university application process, and provide universities with a steady stream of suitable applicants

Kampus Group can help universities find suitable candidates, as well as simplifying the university application and visa process for students.

If you’re a student thinking about entering a UK university, get in touch here.

If you’re a university wanting to know more about our services, contact us here.



International and EU students in higher education in the UK FAQs – House of Commons Library (

Number of Non-EU Students in UK Rises as EU Numbers Drop –

U.K. Universities Face Financial Loss As Brexit Hits E.U. Student Numbers (

UKCISA – international student advice and guidance – Brexit – immigration