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What Does Brexit Mean For Postgraduate Students?

BrexitThe UK has now formally left the European Union which means that when it comes to tuition fees for EU students at UK universities or for UK students studying at countries in the European Union things are a bit more complicated – and expensive!

Let's take a look at the different possible scenarios depending on what country you're from and where you want to study. Please refer to the UK Government website for further advice.

Are you a UK student wanting to study in Europe?

Are you a student from the UK interested in pursuing your studies in Europe? In the past, being a UK postgraduate student and a member of the EU allowed you to enjoy the same privileges as domestic students when studying in another EU country. This meant that you were charged tuition fees equivalent to those paid by students from the host European country, and you had access to various funding opportunities. Moreover, you didn't require a study visa, and you were exempt from taking entrance exams or providing extensive documentation typically required for international students.

However, the landscape has changed, and European universities now charge UK students fees similar to those levied on international students. Additionally, UK citizens are no longer permitted to stay in Europe for more than 90 days within a six-month period without obtaining the necessary documentation.

Consequently, UK students interested in pursuing a postgraduate program in an EU country usually need to apply for a student visa or a temporary resident visa specifically designed for students. The exact requirements may vary slightly depending on the country of study but generally include the following criteria:

  • An offer of acceptance from a higher education institution.
  • Sufficient financial resources to cover tuition fees and living expenses throughout the course.
  • Health insurance coverage.

Student visas or temporary resident permits are typically valid for two years, with the option to extend if the course hasn't been completed within that timeframe. The specific documentation, eligibility requirements, and duration of visas may vary among different European countries. To obtain detailed information about your particular student visa requirements and the application process, it is advisable to refer to the European Commission EU Immigration Portal.

It's worth noting that the Free Fees Initiative in Ireland offers an exception to this trend. UK postgraduate students who choose to study at universities in Ireland are eligible for this initiative, provided they have resided in the UK or an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the previous five years.


Are you a European student wanting to study a postgraduate program in the UK?

During the UK's EU membership, European students studying at a UK university were given the same benefits as domestic students. This meant they paid the same tuition fees and had access to similar funding opportunities as UK postgraduate students. Additionally, European students did not require a study visa, nor were they required to take the same entrance exams or provide extensive documentation as international students. However, it was necessary to demonstrate English language proficiency through tests like TOEFL or IELTS if English wasn’t their first language.

Presently, UK universities are charging European students tuition fees equivalent to international student rates, and obtaining a visa is often necessary.

The UK government offers several types of study visas:

Short-term study visa:

The Short-term study visa is valid for 11-months, allowing students to stay in the UK for the duration of their course plus an additional 30 days, as long as the total stay does not exceed 11 months. The fee for a short-term study visa is around £200.

Student visa:

The Student visa is suitable for EU students aged 16 and above who have received an offer from a licensed student sponsor. This is the most common visa for postgraduate students to get. Applicants must demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support themselves throughout the course and cover their tuition fees. The required amount may vary depending on individual circumstances. Students also need to prove their proficiency in speaking, reading, writing and understanding English.

Graduate visa:

The Graduate visa allows students to remain in the UK for a minimum of two years after successfully completing their postgraduate course. EU students are eligible for a graduate visa if they meet the following criteria:

  • They are already in the UK.
  • Their current visa is a student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • They have completed a UK bachelors degree, postgraduate degree or another eligible course for a specified period with their student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • Their education provider (university or college) has notified the Home Office that the course has been successfully completed.

Irish students are an exception as they are treated as domestic students and can study at UK universities in the same manner as before Brexit.

Are you an International student wanting to study in Europe or the UK?

Conditions in the UK and the EU have remained the same for international students with regards to their tuition fees and visa regulations, as these have remained unchanged since Brexit. This means that International students will be under the same financial and visa circumstances as EU students – see the previous section for further information on costs and eligibility requirements.

What does Brexit mean for Erasmus students?

The UK stopped being an Erasmus program country once Brexit happened, therefore UK students are no longer able to participate in the Erasmus program.

Are there any alternatives to Erasmus?

The UK government has introduced the Turing Scheme as a global initiative for studying and working abroad, which includes opportunities at universities in the EU. This scheme offers funding for international educational and training experiences across various destinations worldwide.

The Turing Scheme extends its funding to organisations within the UK and British Overseas Territories, encompassing the education sector, including higher education institutions (HEIs). Its primary objective is to support organisations in strengthening their current international connections and fostering new partnerships across the globe.

What are your funding options as an EU student in the UK?

Many UK law schools and universities have put funding and scholarships in place to encourage EU students to continue their studies in the UK. For example, the University of Aberdeen in Scotand has Aberdeen Global Scholarships (EU), which provides EU postgraduate students with tuition fee discounts and funding towards their postgraduate programs of £3,500. It is worth doing some research to see what funding UK universities are offering EU students.

What are your funding options as a UK student in the EU?

Universities in Europe are keen to have UK postgraduate students at their institutions, as a result of this there are some excellent bursaries and scholarships available. Take the time to research funding opportunities online.


Brexit has made postgraduate study in Europe for UK students slightly trickier, but it is still an avenue worth pursuing and there is plenty of funding available if you look in the right places. This is also the case for EU students wishing to study their PG course in the UK. And don’t forget, whichever country you are from, once you have been offered a place on an masters or PhD program at any recognised university worldwide you will be eligible to apply for a Postgrad Solutions Study Bursary worth £500.

Please note, it is advisable to check with the individual universities in the UK and Europe for up-to-date information on tuition fees for all postgraduate programs.


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