Under the Withdrawal Agreement reached between the UK and EU, which came into effect on 1February 2020, a Transition Period was introduced until 31 December 2020. During this period EU law continues to apply in the UK (as if Brexit had not taken place), and in principle at least (COVID-19 has of course affected this in practice) this means continued free movement between the UK and EU (and vice versa) until the end of 2020.
The UK Government has during recent months made a number of policy announcements to clarify the changes that will come into effect from 1 January 2021 and the future status of EU students studying in the UK:
- A new points-based immigration system will be introduced from 1 January 2021. This will affect students from the EU and the EFTA countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). Full details are available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-immigration-system-what-you-need-to-know#international-students-and-graduates. It will not apply to Irish citizens or to EU (and EFTA) citizens with settled or pre-settled status under the Settlement Scheme.
- From 1 August 2021 students from EU and EFTA countries starting new courses in the UK will no longer be classed as having ‘home fee status’ and will be subject to international fees. They will also no longer be eligible to access student loans from Student Finance England. These changes will not affect students that have already started courses before this date. Irish nationals living in the UK or Ireland, and EU/EFTA nationals with settled or pre-settled status are also not covered by these changes, and will continue to have ‘home fee status’ and be eligible to apply for loans from Student Finance England.
The UK remains fully eligible under the current Erasmus+ programme, both for inbound mobility (i.e. to the UK from eligible countries) or outbound mobility, and this is for the duration of the mobility actions even if they go beyond 2020.
The participation of the UK in the future Erasmus programme (2021-2027) is not yet confirmed, and is contingent on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the UK Government and EU.