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Brexit Briefings: What Brexit Could Mean For University Fees

With Brexit getting ever closer – the UK is due to exit the EU on 29 March 2019 – we’re running a series of blog posts about what Brexit could mean for your finances. Here we’ll look at what Brexit could mean for university fees and the future costs of a university education for your children.

A good university education has never been cheap. However, parents have been able to make sizable savings in some cases where EU students studying in the UK, and vice versa, have paid tuition fees at domestic levels rather than international levels which may be higher.

What will happen to tuition fees post Brexit?

The UK Government has confirmed that students of EU nationality starting at a UK university up until 2019-20 – even after Brexit – will pay UK domestic tuition fees for the duration of their course.

From 2020-21, if no further concession is made, new EU students may have to pay international fees. Depending on course these can be £20,000-£30,000 or more annually, compared to domestic fees of £9,250 (England).

The EU has made no reciprocal offer. So UK students studying in the EU may have to pay international fees after Brexit. However, it is worth noting that tuition fees at some public universities, in countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain and France are low or even zero for everyone not just EU citizens.

The impact on UK university funding and future fees

The impact of Brexit could be much greater than expected. Some UK universities are highly reliant on the fee income from EU students. Some benefit from a share of £89bn of EU funding for research. If Brexit reduces EU student numbers and EU funding UK universities may come under financial pressure to increase their fees. This could affect all students studying in the UK, no matter where in the world they come from.

This article by authoritative education consultancy William Clarence Education suggests top UK universities could break away from the current system and align with the (very expensive) US education system. This could make the most prestigious UK universities only available to the very wealthy.

This article from the Inside Higher Ed website considers whether, as a result of Brexit and other complex reasons, the UK and US – currently the most popular destinations for international students – could see declining student numbers in the future. It explores whether other countries like Australia, Canada and those in continental Europe will attract more students.

So what does all this mean for parents with children who will be studying at university in the future?

The future looks uncertain. Depending on what the EU and UK agree (or don’t agree) before Brexit it could mean the cost of a UK university education could increase considerably in future.

It is also possible that, in years to come, other countries around the world will become more popular as a place to study.

So, planning or reviewing your provision for meeting the future costs of your child’s education now could well be a very sensible move.

We hope you find these Brexit briefings useful. If you would like to find out more about the education fees planning service we offer please contact us.

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