Brexit’s Impact on EU Enrolments: UK Universities May Lose £62.5 Million a Year Due to New Rules

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 16, 2021


As of September this year, the EU/EEA and Swiss students planning to head to the United Kingdom to pursue higher education will lose their “home fee status” and access to British student loans as a result of the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

The “home fee status” has so far allowed these students to pay the same tuition fees as the UK students do.

In addition, the EU/EEA and Swiss students will also have to face the same restrictions as other international students, including restrictions on their right to work after completing studies.

According to an analysis namedEU exit: estimating the impact on UK higher education” commissioned by the British government, prepared for the UK Department of Education by London Economics, the new rules could lead to UK universities losing an amount of £62.5 million (USD $85.9 million) per year in tuition fees. reports that this loss in income is a result of UK universities losing 57 percent of their first-year EU students.

The EU students paid the same fees as UK students after enrolling at UK universities for the 2020/21 academic year one last time.

UK higher education institutions had started to experience loss in income since 2016 when the Brexit referendum took place.

According to the analysis, despite the increase in tuition revenue that the UK universities will receive from the incoming EU students, no changes are expected to happen regarding the lost revenue caused by fewer students in the country.

One in every three international students pursuing higher education in the United Kingdom is from the EU.

Last year’s survey revealed that EU students considering the UK as a too expensive study destination due to Brexit rules prefer the following countries:

  • Netherlands – 49 percent
  • Germany – 36 percent
  • France – 19 percent
  • Ireland – 16 percent
  • Sweden -14 percent

Despite Brexit, Oxford & Cambridge Expected to Gain £3.5 Million During a Year

Nonetheless, not every university’s income will be affected by Brexit. Oxford and Cambridge, for instance, are expected to gain £3.5 million during a year as the demands to register at these universities are not predicted to decrease.

Ever since Brexit was announced, universities across the UK have made attempts towards the non-EU markets. As a result, in 2018/19, due to growth from these markets, the international student enrolments in the UK marked a record.

In the same academic year, the number of first-year students from the EU countries dropped by 2 percent. On the other hand, the number from non-EU countries increased by 23 percent.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), in a 2021 data release, reported about a 40 percent decrease in the number of EU applicants to universities in the UK for September 2021.

The release notified that there were 26,010 fewer EU student applicants, whereas the number of non-EU applications increased by 17 percent.

According to data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the number of international students in the UK has experienced an increase of 12 percent in 2019/20 compared to a year earlier.  

HESA’s findings have shown that the rise of over 60,000 students was driven by an increase in the number of non-EU students’ enrolments which during 2019/20 increased by 23 percent.

The number of international student enrolment at UK higher education institutions has been increasing since 2000/01, from which period, student enrolments more than doubled by the end of the decade.

During 2010/11, first-year enrollments reached nearly 240,000. Ever since this increase happened, the number of international student enrolments has remained balanced.

In 2016/17, a total of 235,315 international freshmen registered at UK higher education.   

London Economics’ Analysis of HESA data

Since 2000, China has been one of the main sources of international students in the UK. During the academic year 2016/2017, there were nearly 66,000 Chinese students in the UK. In contrast, the number of students coming from India decreased since 2008/09.

  • 73 percent of international freshmen were domiciled out of the EU.
  • 27 percent domiciled inside the EU – from Member States outside the UK.

British Students Can No Longer Participate in EU’s Erasmus Exchange Program

Among others, the UK’s failure to reach an agreement with the EU has led to British students not being able to participate in the EU’s Erasmus Exchange program.

As a replacement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson notified students earlier that the UK would create its own scheme named after the British computing pioneer Alan Turing, collaborating with the best universities worldwide.

Since 1987, the Erasmus Exchange has provided student exchanges and school links across Europe, work experience, and more.

For EU students who have been left uncertain about Brexit and what will happen next, the Spanish government earlier published information for students who are already in the UK and those intending to study in the country. According to information provided by the government, the UK will continue to be part of the European Higher Education Area after January 2021 as well.

Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, the British and German universities agreed to ensure collaboration in the sector even after Brexit.

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