DfE Confirms Tuition Fee Freeze
22nd Jan 2021
Reports have surfaced that suggest the Government is proposing to withdraw home fee status and financial support to EU students starting courses in the 2021-22 academic year.
The strategy would leave new EU students paying significantly higher fees, as well as being shut out from Student Loans, resulting in large upfront payments.
Although the proposals are yet to be finalised, it will likely lead to a cabinet debate about whether Theresa May is looking to cut the number of foreign students at universities. The Prime Minister has previously clashed with colleagues over her insistence that foreign students should be included in immigration figures.
Justifying the plans, Downing Street officials believe the taxpayer subsidy provided to EU students can't be justified after Brexit. With EU students subject to new immigration rules, the likelihood of them staying and paying taxes is reduced and therefore they are less likely to repay their student loans.
Universities UK has now urged the DfE to clarify its position, saying: "It is essential there is no further delay in the UK government confirming the fee status for EU students starting courses at English universities in autumn 2020. The recruitment cycle is already well under way."
In response, a DfE spokesperson said: "Last year, we announced that students from the EU starting courses in England in the 2019-20 academic year will continue to be eligible for home fee status, which means they will be charged the same tuition fees as UK students."
"The government will provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2020-21 academic year and subsequent years in the future."
According to 2017-18 HESA data, some of those institutions outside of the capital that have the greatest proportion of EU domiciled (excluding UK) students relative to their total full-time student population, include:
Cranfield University (35.5%)
The University of Aberdeen (22.7%)
University College Birmingham (21.9%)
Queen Margaret University (18.6%)
University of Abertay Dundee (13.9%)
The University of Cambridge (13.8%)
Edinburgh Napier University (13.0%)
Southampton Solent University (12.1%)
The University of Oxford (12.0%)
The University of Glasgow (11.6%)
Strangely, the decision seems in contrast to recently published plans to increase the number of international students studying in the UK by more than 30%.
The strategy aims to increase the number of international students to 600,000 per year, generating £35 billion through education exports by 2030.
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