On 1 January 2021, Brexit became reality after the United Kingdom (UK) fully left the European Union (EU). This led to some important changes for Masters applicants on both sides: for Brits who want to study in Europe, as well as EU students who are applying for a Masters in Britain.
What, exactly, is changing? What are the main issues applicants face? Access Masters spoke to Flavio Cabral, an international higher education expert in the UK, who shared valuable tips for post-Brexit Masters candidates. Here are the main points he says you should remember.
Yes, you can study in the UK/EU after Brexit
The most common misconception out there, Cabral says, is that it has become too difficult for EU students to study in the UK or for Brits to study in the EU after Brexit. In fact, “European students are more than welcome to come to the UK” – and vice versa – the EU welcomes non-EU students, which UK citizens now are.
The actual process of applying for a Masters degree has not changed at all: universities’ requirements are the same in terms of grades, test scores, personal statements, and recommendation letters.
Once they have been admitted, UK Masters students in EU countries as well as EU students in the UK now also need to apply for a student visa. This is the process that international students outside the EU have always gone through even before Brexit. Visas are issued by the host country’s government. This is an extra step for incoming students, but not a real barrier to study. Those accepted for a degree programme usually are entitled to a visa. Some universities provide help and guidance with the process. For example, you can check out Robert Gordon University’s page for international students with detailed information on the topic.
The main question to keep in mind: funding
While visas may seem confusing, they are not a significant issue, according to Cabral. The real hurdle for post-Brexit students lies elsewhere: in financing their education. Before Brexit, EU students in UK Masters programmes, as well as British students in the EU, were charged lower fees. Now, EU students in the UK and UK students in the EU will be subject to the same fees as all international students.
“The cost will increase dramatically and some people are not prepared for it,” Cabral says. However, this does not mean there are no ways to finance your studies. In the UK, universities and government bodies are looking for new ways to accommodate international students after Brexit, and this can include financial incentives. As just one example, Nottingham Trent University (UK) is offering students from the EU a discount of up to 50% of the tuition fee. Further, with a letter of admission from the university, students can apply for a bank loan in their home country. And a student visa allows you to work part-time while you study, which can help offset some of your costs.
Brexit happened just weeks ago, Cabral says, and new policies for international students are still being developed both in the UK and in the EU. Prospective students should look for opportunities to talk to universities directly to see what they are offering.
The UK is in fact four nations – and the EU is 27
Many Masters applicants are unaware of the regional differences within the UK and EU, cautions Cabral. In the UK, each of the four nations – England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland – has its own regional government that can make changes to education policy. Some regional parliaments are now discussing possible benefits for international students. There may be differences in the services available to international students in the 27 countries of the EU, as well. Where students choose to go will impact their experience, Cabral says.
The situation is still evolving, even after Brexit is officially a fact. That is why students should continue to do their research. Education fairs and events, which are now accessible online, are one way to hear the most up-to-date information so you can make a good decision.
To hear the latest information directly from university representatives and get answers to all your questions, sign up for the exclusive Access Masters online event open to residents of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Register for free today.