Number of EU students enrolling in UK universities halves post-Brexit | Universities
The number of EU students enrolled in British universities has more than halved since Brexit, while the number of academics from Italy, Germany and France has dropped sharply, figures show.
Brexit is seen as a major deterrent as housing fees and student funding are no longer available to EU students who are not already living in the UK with Settled or Pre-Settled status.
“The significant decline in the number of first-year students in the EU may be due to changes in entitlement to tuition fees,” the Higher Education Statistics Agency said in a statement, which released data for the first full year after Brexit.
Before Brexit, students paid just over £9,000 in housing and had student funding available. Fees rose to £38,000 after Brexit.
The number of EU students enrolled in the first year of a bachelor’s or master’s degree has dropped from 66,680 in the year before Brexit 2020 to 31,000 in 2021. This was the first year that EU students were treated the same way as to those who come from China or India.
But the impact of Brexit is strongest at the undergraduate level: in 2021, just 13,155 EU students will enroll in the first year of an initial degree, compared with 37,530 a year earlier, according to official figures.
Universities say the loss of students takes away diversity in the classroom and weakens college finances, which could expect EU students to attend college for three or four years – unlike many new international students who come for year-long courses. postgraduate education. .
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that a total of 120,000 EU students are still enrolled in the system, compared to 152,000 in 2020-2021. This includes students who entered before Brexit and are finishing their courses.
The loss of students at the graduate level is a major blow as it has served as a conduit for the science sector and students have been a vital part of Horizon and other cutting edge developments in areas such as medical research and astronomy.
HESA data show that the number of EU PhD students fell from 24,000 to 14,000 in 2017-2018, while the number of research students halved from 4,650 to 2,260 in the same period.
The HESA data also shows that the largest post-Brexit student exodus is in Italy, Germany and France.
Ireland has replaced France as the No. 1 source of EU students, according to HESA, with just under 10,000 students enrolled in the UK in 2021–22, similar to numbers in 2017–2018. Over 2,000 of them study at universities in Northern Ireland.
The number of Chinese students rose from 107,000 in 2017-2018 to 151,000 last year.
UK universities said that the increase in the number of students from outside the EU did not compensate for the exodus of students from the EU, weakening financial stability in the third level education and reducing diversity in all subject areas. “The decline in the number of students enrolled in graduate and postgraduate studies as students move to international fees is worrisome in terms of the flow of research talent in the UK.”
The numbers “show very clearly the impact of a kind of loss of freedom of movement and a change in the status of tuition fees in Europe, and, most importantly for students, loss of access to student loans,” said Charlie Robinson, head of global mobility policy at UK universities.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), which has more recent data based on course applications, suggests that the decline in EU students will continue with applications from EU residents. for undergraduate courses in 2022-2023 – 24,000 people compared to 53,000 in 2016.
By the time the EU students had considered their options and made their choice, that number had dropped significantly, with only 11,300 taking places in the UK, many of whom were likely from Ireland.
Before Brexit, EU students across the bloc paid the same as local students, which in the case of England was just over £9,250 a year. They now have to pay fees paid by non-EU students, which can range from £11,400 to £38,000 a year, according to Study UK and the British Council.
Brexit also excludes EU students from student loans with new immigration rules requiring non-Irish European students to obtain visas and prove they can secure access to £1,334 a month for courses in London and £1,024 in month for courses outside London.
A Ministry of Education spokesman said the decline in the number of EU students was “expected … due to a number of factors”, including Brexit.
“EU students remain an important part of our international education strategy, which aims to enroll at least 600,000 students a year and generate £35bn of exports for the UK economy by 2030,” they added.