Brexit and its impact on Masters and PhD study

Since the UK left the EU in 2019 there have been a lot of changes in the options for study available to masters and PhD students. Here’s a summary of what’s different and what you need to consider. Whether you’re a UK student hoping to study in Europe or a EU student hoping to study in the UK, you need to be aware of Brexit and its impact on Masters and PhD study.

Students from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

If you plan to study in the UK from 2022 you are going to need a visa, but there are some exceptions:

  • EU Settlement Scheme

The deadline to apply for the EU Settlement scheme most has now passed, however there may still be a chance to apply before the end of 2021 if you or a family member were living in the UK by 31 December 2020. So long as you have a reason for why you didn’t apply by the June 2021 deadline then you can be considered. The benefits of the scheme mean you don’t need a visa and can access benefits and services, such as free healthcare.

  • Short Courses

You also won’t need a visa to study in the UK for courses up to six months, as long as you are studying at an accredited institution. This includes English language courses, but your Masters or PhD will require a visa, unless:

  • You’re an Irish national living in the UK or Ireland

If so, you will have ‘home’ fee status and be eligible for tuition fee loans. Irish students who've lived in the UK for three years will qualify for maintenance loans, as will students with settled status. You can find out more about student visas in our ‘Will I need a student visa in 2021?’ blog and apply for a new Student Route Visa through the UK Government’s webpages.

What about fees?

Before Brexit, the main advantage for EU students studying in the UK was fee status as they paid the same as UK students. Sadly, this is no longer the case and you will find your fees are the same as other ‘international’ students, which are normally higher than home fees (and vary between courses and universities). You will also no longer be able to apply for a student loan, although prospective PhD students can still apply for a Research Council Studentship.

UK students wanting to study in Europe

UK students wanting to study a Masters or PhD degree in Europe can take heart that this may still be a good option given lower (or even no!) tuition fees and the prevalence of courses taught in English in some countries.

You’ll need to keep in mind that the cost of living doesn’t outweigh any savings in tuition fees, but the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Romania, Spain & Switzerland are definitely worth considering amongst others.

In addition to fee information, remember to check if there are any funding schemes to which you may be eligible. Also don’t forget Ireland given the lack of language barrier and Common Travel Area arrangements, meaning you’ll pay the same as an Irish student.

The Government has published a useful guide for UK students wishing to study in Europe.

What about Erasmus+?

Sadly UK students (except those from Northern Ireland) can no longer take part in this EU-funded scheme, however the Government has replaced it with the Turing scheme, which will enable up to 35,000 students to work or study across the world.

How does the Turing scheme compare to Erasmus+?

The Turing scheme offers different amounts of funding dependent on where you are going and for how long. You can expect a monthly payment of around £300 per month (slightly lower than with Erasmus+), but as with Erasmus+, you shouldn’t expect to pay tuition fees as universities are expected to waive these fees. There also may be additional support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Contact your education provider to see if and what is available under this scheme.

In conclusion

So far it seems that you can find alternatives to many of the systems that were available pre 2019. The long term effect of Brexit and its impact on Masters and PhD study will be reflected in the number of students seeking to study in the UK. British nationals may also realise in time that the EU remains open to study opportunities.

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