EU student applications before Brexit, last minute surge

British universities report a surprising rise in the number of European Union students applying for courses starting next September. It feels like a surge before Britain leaves the EU. The rise partly offsets the 3% fall in the number of British-based students applying through UCAS before the January 15th deadline. The Guardian newspaper reports that applications to the University of Warwick from EU student are up 10% compared with last year. According to Warwick’s Professor Seán Hand, the deputy pro-vice-chancellor for Europe, “Paradoxically, Brexit has focused people’s attention on the strength of British universities.”

EU student applications

The increase in the number of EU students applying may partly be down to the UK government’s confirmation last year that EU applicants for the 2018 and 2019 will continue to have access to undergraduate, master’s and postgraduate student loans. And grants, even if the course concludes after the UK’s exit from the EU. It may be a case of now or never.

The rise reverses last year’s sharp fall in the number of EU student applications, but it may only be short-lived. University leaders are concerned that access to EU research and regional development funding would be shut off after Brexit. And that European academics would be warned off British universities because of doubts surrounding the future of their funding (and salaries) post-Brexit.

British universities among the world’s top 10

However, for the moment (maybe for just this year and next) British universities appear increasingly attractive globally. The QS World University rankings for 2018 have four British universities among the world’s top ten – Cambridge, Oxford, UCL and Imperial College. My own daughter, who hopes to go to one of them, is already drawing up her revision timetable for this summer’s exams. It may seem early days but top grades need to be achieved. The attraction of a British university among her and her peers is extreme and intense. She just needs to organize her summer job! Help paying for her maintenance costs while she is there will be important, and is also good financial discipline which I naturally encourage!


With twenty years’ experience as an international journalist and travel writer, Jon Bryant has written for The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer and The Times. He also teaches journalism at the EDJ in Nice, France. He is the co-author of the Financial literacy book for children ‘It Doesn’t Grow On Trees’.