How is Brexit affecting student applications to British universities?

How is Brexit affecting student applications to British universities?

Fewer students from within and outside Europe will apply to study at UK universities in the wake of Brexit, leading figures in the sector had warned.

But the latest figures from Ucas show applications from EU students to British universities have risen by 1 per cent since last year and the number of international applicants is up 8 per cent.

Brexit has not led to a drop in university applications yet. And experts say the weaker pound since the EU referendum could have made Britain even more attractive as it is a cheaper place to study.

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Were the fears of vice-chancellors and academics about the Brexit vote unfounded? It seems too early to say.

It is likely that some European applicants will be trying to get into the British system before tuition fees go up and they are no longer entitled to student loans.

EU students starting at English universities this year are still eligible for domestic tuition fees, which are £9,250 a year, and student loans. They will also retain these benefits for courses starting in 2020.

However, the fee status and financial support offered to students from Europe could change for the worse in the years after the UK exits the EU, which would make studying in Britain less appealing.

European students could be deterred from applying to a UK university if they are made to pay tuition fees of up to £18,000 a year – which international students from outside the EU currently pay.

Leaders of universities across the country will breathe a collective sigh of relief at the Ucas data showing that non-UK students still want to study in Britain. But is it just the calm before the storm? 

The Russell Group, comprising the most selective universities in the UK, has already seen a drop in the number of EU students enrolling in its institutions. Numbers fell for the first time in five years, figures show.

And the situation could get worse with a no-deal Brexit as research funding would be up in the air and greater uncertainty could put off EU students from studying at UK universities.

So while the positive trend in the Ucas report is welcome, the full impact of Brexit is yet to be seen.

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