EU students to be barred from FE loans next year

Students from the European Union will lose eligibility for advanced learner loans from August next year, the government confirmed today.

Universities minister Michelle Donelan announced the new rules this afternoon, which also apply to students from the European Economic Area and Swiss nationals.

It comes as the UK prepares to leave the transition year for leaving the European Union at the end of December.

“Following our decision to leave the EU, EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22,” Donelan said.

She confirmed that this change will apply to further education funding for those aged 19 and above, including the national and devolved adult education budget, and funding for apprenticeships.

The EU makes up 11 per cent in terms of learners and funding for colleges currently, according to statistics published by the Student Loan Company.

Donelan said the changes will not affect students “starting courses in academic year 2020/21, nor those EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively”.

“It will also not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK and Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals under the Common Travel Area arrangement.”

She added that EU, other EEA and Swiss students, staff and researchers make an “important contribution to our universities…I want that contribution to continue and am confident – given the world-leading quality of our higher education sector – that it will”.

Home fee status currently allows those impacted to pay tuition fees at the “home” rather than the more expensive overseas rate on courses of FE in England.