European and British flag merged together

A lot has been spoken about Brexit, its financial impact and the manner in which it’s going to affect freedom of movement to and from the UK. One aspect, however, deserves to be elaborated a bit further – the manner in which Brexit is going to affect foreign students interested in UK universities.

If you’re one of these students, here are a few essentials to keep in mind. 

What will Change for EU Students?

Will students from EU countries start needing a visa in order to come to the UK? It’s likely that new regulations will be introduced but their scope isn’t clear at the time being.

According to some analysts, potential students from EU countries will have to eventually start applying for a Tier 4 Student Visa. Also known as a general student visa, this one currently applies to students who are from countries other than the ones belonging to the European Economic Area and Switzerland.  

Application for this visa takes place three months before the beginning of the semester, course or training programme. The visa costs £335 and it’s typically processed within a three-week period. The duration of the legal stay in the UK depends on the educational programme that the student has chosen and its duration. 

How about Other International Students?

Currently, there are speculations that more extensive reforms may take place in the future, affecting all international students interested in attending a college in the UK.  

In October 2016, a number of student visa consultations were announced. According to conservatives, the current system allows all students favourable employment opportunities regardless of the academic institution that they join and graduate from. In addition, while an international student is in the UK, their family is allowed to do any sort of work, an Amber Rudd presentation during a Conservative party conference suggests.

The aim of the change will be to attract top talent by making it more difficult for “questionable” academic institutions to extend an open invitation to just about anyone.

If introduced, these reforms will reduce the number of foreign students coming to the UK and allow solely the best of applicants to enter the country legally. A possible two-tier system may be utilised for the purpose.

Brexit and Erasmus

There’s one more important aspect of Brexit that could potentially affect the opportunities that students can currently enjoy. The Erasmus Programme, for example, is an EU exchange opportunity that’s been around since 1987. It provides EU students with academic exchange, training, youth and sports opportunities across the Union member states.

Academics have legitimate concerns that Brexit will impact the ability of UK students and their EU counterparts to participate in such academic exchange opportunities. 

More than 200,000 UK students have benefited from Erasmus exchanges. Under the programme, funds are provided to students who want to travel abroad while working on obtaining their undergraduate degree.

The situation is similar with programmes like Horizon 2020. Under the programme, UK universities have received funding exceeding two billion pounds. 

The British government has committed to maintaining these programmes until the country’s final exit from the Union. This means that exchange opportunities and European funding will be available for at least two more years. We’ll simply have to wait and see the policies that will be introduced after Brexit arrangements have been finalised.