The cost of Brexit: How will tuition fees change for British students at EU universities from 2021 onwards?

Over four years after the referendum result, and eight months after the United Kingdom has technically left the European Union, it is still too soon to be certain of the financial consequences for British passport holders looking to study at EU universities from 2021 onwards. While most countries in Europe have guaranteed students who are resident before 31st December 2020 that there will be no cliff edge for them, for those students moving after that date the indications are that there will be significant change both in terms of tuition fees and access to student finance but nothing is certain. We have spent a lot of time this summer updating all the programmes on our A Star Future and Study in Holland websites to reflect the probable new reality.

Student finance arrangements are largely reciprocal. If the UK treats EU nationals the same as any third-country nationals post-Brexit then EU member states will most probably do likewise with UK nationals. The extent to which this will mean a change in the terms and conditions British students face will largely depend on the way non-EU students are treated in individual European countries as they are all free to set their own conditions for such students.

In this article we will attempt to summarise the situation for British students looking to enter EU universities for the purposes of taking a full Bachelor’s degree in the English language. The conditions are likely to be very similar for those seeking Master’s degrees where the English-taught choice is significantly wider. In some countries, the lack of degrees taught in English makes this a largely theoretical exercise but at the start of this new  era in UK-EU relations we thought it best to try to cover most of the major European countries. We will not address any changes to the terms and conditions relating to university exchanges and any form of mobility that does not lead to obtaining a full degree abroad.

In some countries there are far more opportunities to study in English at private universities and where appropriate we will also touch on some expected changes here. However, private universities are generally free to set their own terms and conditions, as well as tuition fees, meaning that they rarely offer an accurate illustration of national policy.

In the absence of any detail about the UK’s future relationship with the European Union we are assuming in all cases that British students will be treated identically with all other non-EU students although it is entirely possible that any agreement on our future relationship could change this.

Where will Brexit make no or little difference to British students?

The first country to consider is Norway, a member of the EEA but not the EU. Here, all students are treated the same and there are no tuition fees for anyone, no matter their nationality. Students in Norway need to demonstrate they have the funds to support themselves meaning that UK parents might need a hefty bank balance in order to meet the requirements to obtain a student visa. The number of Bachelor’s degrees on offer in English at Norwegian public universities just about reaches double figures so it is unlikely that there will be explosive growth in the number of Brits seeking to go to university there.

Germany is perhaps the best example of a country where tuition fees are the same for everyone enrolling at public universities. However, of the roughly 235 Bachelor’s degrees taught in English that we have been able to identify, only 35 are taught at public universities. Of these 10 are in Baden-Wuerttemburg where tuition fees of €3,000 per year have recently been introduced for non-EU students. It is possible that other German states will follow in this direction.

Other countries where Brexit will see little change in tuition fees for British students include France, Austria and Belgium. However, the choice of degrees on offer in France at public universities is even less than in Norway. In Austria and Belgium, fees are higher for non-EU nationals but there is little difference in the fees charged by research universities. Fees at Universities of Applied Sciences are noticeably higher in both of these countries, typically around €6,000 a year.  

Where is Brexit not really the reason for differential fees?

In many European countries, particularly in Central Europe, the distinction of nationality or residency is not that important when it comes to determining the price of a degree. Here, the concept of an international student is less important than whether or not a degree programme is designated international. Essentially this means that if a degree is taught in English it attracts different tuition fees than if it were in the local language and this distinction is far more important than a student’s place of origin.

This means, for example, that if a British national were capable of studying in Polish at a Polish university they would not have to pay tuition fees. Obviously the likelihood that such a British student did not also possess another passport or were not already resident in Poland is extremely small. Even if there were many students who could take advantage of this, entry requirements often make it extremely difficult for them to benefit. Besides Poland, this is also the situation in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and the Baltic States.

Inasmuch as this affects British students it is typically in the health science subjects of medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine. However, there are also quite a number of options in science and engineering although these tend to be aimed more at international students from Russia, India and China and very rarely appeal to Brits. Fees on international programmes are typically between €1,500 and €4,500 for business and engineering degrees but medicine can be as much as €12,000 at Charles University in Prague and at several Polish universities.

Where will Brexit have the biggest impact?

The impact of Brexit will be felt most in the countries that have the widest range of suitable, attractive options for British students and not just a handful of degrees in health sciences or a small number of prestigious private universities. This means Finland, Sweden and Denmark but, above all, the Netherlands.

Norway is now the only country that still offers free tuition to anyone from anywhere but until relatively recently so did Denmark, Sweden and Finland. In recent years they have introduced tuition fees for non-EU nationals and while British nationals will continue to be exempted if they are resident in these countries before 31st December 2020, for those moving after that date the higher fees will apply.

Annual tuition fees in all three countries are variable by subject and by university but generally in a range between £5,500 and £14,500 in Denmark, £7,000 and £17,000 in Sweden (although fine art and music degrees can be significantly more), £4,500 and £11,000 in Finland. Depending on a British student’s choice of subject it could still be cheaper to study in all of these countries than it currently is in the United Kingdom but it is certainly significantly more expensive than it was before the Brexit impact.

In Finland many universities offer partial fee waivers for international students who confirm their place and pay within the published deadlines. These can reduce the fees by 50% and occasionally more and can continue into later years if students make the required progress.

Any access to student finance in these countries that British nationals enjoyed pre-Brexit will end for anyone who is not already resident before the expiration of the transition period.

In the Netherlands the tuition fees will also change. Prior to Brexit, British students were funded at Dutch universities in the same way as all other EU nationals. Tuition fees for EU students are best described as a contribution towards the cost of their education. In 2021/22 this contribution will be €2,168 for nearly all Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. This contribution is topped up by the government to meet the actual cost of educating students in their chosen field. Post-Brexit, UK nationals will have to make up the amount of the subsidy in the same way as all other non-EU students. At the same time, their access to the Dutch Student Finance system will cease. This means there will no longer be any loans available for tuition fees and the system whereby students working part-time can access living cost support will also cease. This rather than the level of non-EU fees is likely to have the biggest impact on British students’ ability to afford to study in Holland.

Non-EU tuition fees in the Netherlands are modest by UK standards, typically in a range between £5,500 and £13,500 per year. Unlike in Denmark and Sweden it is easier to work out the tuition fee directly from the subject and type of higher education institution with Universities of Applied Sciences cheaper than research universities and arts degrees tuition fees lower than science and engineering. Medicine degrees clearly fall outside this range with annual tuition fees of over £30,000. In many respects, international fees at Dutch follow the same distribution as can be found in British universities although with less distortion by prestige.

Prior to Brexit, we estimated the annual total cost of studying in the Netherlands at around £11,000. Post Brexit it will be a minimum of £15,000 but probably closer to £20,000 for the most popular options for British students. These amounts still compare favourably with the anticipated cost of a similar education at a British university but the absence of student finance will unfortunately put it beyond the reach of many.

Will British students be able to access financial support post-Brexit?

There are more scholarships available for non-EU students than for EU students. However, it is not yet clear if this will all be available to UK students. In some countries, scholarships are used as a means of supporting students from less developed countries. In Italy, for example, tuition fees are often lower for non-EU students but it is unlikely this will benefit British students.

In some countries means-testing is used to determine tuition fees for EU students. It is unlikely that this will continue post-Brexit.

Even if British nationals are able to benefit from scholarships it is extremely unlikely that this would cover the likely increase in tuition fees. The Holland Scholarship might perhaps become available to British students but this amounts to €5,000 for the first year of Bachelor’s or Master’s study only. Typically scholarships are more likely to be available to Master’s students or at private universities where they are unlikely to offset the cost increase resulting from the removal of EU status.

In conclusion, there is little good news to take from the removal of EU membership for British students in terms of tuition fees and funding arrangements at EU universities. It is possible that this situation will be mitigated by future negotiation but this will be of little use to those students planning their futures now.

The European Union is by no means the most expensive place to look for an English-taught higher education and could still offer cost-effective options for British students. However, it cannot be denied that these options are now fewer and further between. We have already seen a huge growth in the number of UK residents applying to EU universities using a different passport. If this option is available to you, it makes perfect sense to insulate yourself from the effects of Brexit.

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International Medical, Dental and Vet applications in 2020. What you need to know?

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You can find plenty of general advice about studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine on our website but this is our guidance for those of you who are only just thinking about having to study abroad as a consequence of your A’ level results.

While we have heard there might be some places in clearing this year for medicine, most of the advertising we have seen relates to Pathway Programmes rather than first-year admission. There almost certainly won’t be any places for dentistry and veterinary medicine.

Rather than try to “sell” you on any particular option the purpose of this blogpost is to encourage you to think about the most important aspects of your choice. At the end we will list some places that have availability for 2020 but we already know that the right advice for most of you will be to take some time out and plan for 2021 or beyond.

  1. How do I choose the right medical/dental/vet school?

Which is the best medical school in Europe that is easiest to get in to? This is a typical first question and it is an awful one. Is the best option likely to be the easiest? It might very well be the most affordable (what you get and what you pay for aren’t always the same thing) but getting into medical school just means you have jumped the first hurdle – there are many other things to consider.

Obviously you need to know that you meet the entry requirements and that your grades will be acceptable but many medical, dental or vet schools won’t actually care about your grades. What they will care about is how you do in their own entrance exam and this is the first problem that you will face: you are quite possibly too late to apply for 2020 admission. This is an unusual year as many (but not all) entrance exams have moved online and are therefore easier to arrange at short notice. Options that in ordinary years might not be available could actually have space in 2020. Certainly at this stage you have options for all three subjects in Czech Republic and Poland, for example.

Once you have satisfied yourself that you stand a chance of getting a place, the next question I would ask is probably the most important of all: how many students start in the first year and how many of those graduate on target five (or more usually six) years later? How many of these are the same people? You will undoubtedly come across agents offering guaranteed places. Do you really want to go to a medical school that accepts just about anyone who can afford it? This is one area where you really do get what you pay for in the sense that private, more expensive medical schools are likelier to cap the size of their classes at a sensible number. For example, the number of students at Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome is 54 per year and their students are well supported throughout their time at the university. There are 60 places reserved for EU students at Humanitas University this year on their new MEDTEC degree and only 70 in total. This is in addition to the 120 students on their regular medicine degree but that programme is already full for 2020. Humanitas only teaches in English so its entire intake per year is just under 200 for medical students.

The first-year intake of some Bulgarian medical schools is well over 1,000. The University of Debrecen in Hungary has an intake of around 400 in medicine but only c.100 graduate on time six years later (many students take longer than that to complete their studies and some will drop out). Most Czech and Polish universities have sensible class sizes as well.

  1. Will I need to learn a foreign language?

There are an increasing number of options taught entirely in English but they are not available in all European countries. For example, we get many students who wish to study in Germany and Scandinavian countries because tuition fees there are zero in public universities for EU nationals. There is no chance of this happening if you don’t speak the local language.

There is now one German medical school teaching in English but this is a private school and its fees are quite high. Also it awards a Romanian degree not a German one. Every year we come across one or two new European options but they are usually in the same countries:

 

We occasionally have students who insist that they will only go to places where they can qualify entirely in English and this is possible: if you have the money, by all means go to the Caribbean or Australia (Ireland is extremely unlikely although the RCSI does offer medical education in Bahrain at around US$40,000 a year).

For most people, however, studying health sciences abroad means studying elsewhere in Europe and that means learning a language. It is fair to say that Spanish might be easier to learn than Bulgarian or Czech (not to mention more useful later in life) but if you go into this thinking that you can minimize the importance of learning the local language, you are going into this with the wrong frame of mind and we would encourage you to think twice.

  1. Will my degree be GMC/GDC/RCVS recognized?

Yes. But here is the one area where Brexit could have a major impact on your future. European degrees will not suddenly become worse overnight if we are no longer legally obliged to recognize them. Given the sheer number of foreign-qualified doctors, dentists and vets working in the UK (not to mention Brits working abroad), there will be problems if we suddenly stop recognizing foreign qualifications. However, it is possible that this will happen. I cannot rule it out; nobody can. All I can say is that if you start from where you are today and you want to become a doctor in the shortest time possible, going to study in Europe is probably still the best move.

For medicine students, the introduction of Medical Licensing Assessment in 2022 might have an impact on EU-educated doctors but currently it would be illegal to make you take this test if you had qualified within the EU. This is one of those areas where you will need to be aware of the impact of Brexit.

In the future, for veterinary students, if you have studied at an EAEVE accredited institution you are unlikely to have any issues with recognition. Unfortunately, there is no similar organization for dentistry.

 

  1. Should I take a Pathway Programme or an alternative Bachelor’s degree in the UK and try for graduate entry?

No.

OK, I appreciate that my advice here might be biased and needs to be tempered by all the other considerations that you will have. However, I think it is definitely something you need to hear as it might contradict what you will be told by other sources.

Clearly, many students in the UK are attracted to options that appear to keep them on track to becoming a doctor or dentist after the completion of a Bachelor’s degree. However, this doesn’t always work and there are precious few graduate entry routes available elsewhere in Europe. This means that upon completion of a 3 year BSc in Biomedical Science, for example, you might have to start at the beginning again at a European medical school. The chances of a significant number of your credits being recognized towards a degree abroad are very low even if this is possible in theory.

There are very few graduate entry routes available elsewhere in Europe. The only country that has a number of suitable options for medics is Poland and that is primarily designed for students who intend to work in the USA upon graduation. There are options to gain a 4-year UK medical degree in Cyprus or Malta but these are very expensive and entry requirements are high.

There is nothing suitable for dentists and only one known option for veterinary students.

Some international universities offer pathway programmes that might be suitable but please be aware that they might only be recognized in certain universities. We work with the Universidad Europea de Madrid Health Science Foundation Year which is ideal for people with below CCC at A’ level, or who do not have the right subjects. It works very well for gaining guaranteed admission to 1st year dentistry in Madrid the following year but does not improve your chances anywhere else.

  1. How much is it going to cost?

Well, given that you are looking at a five or six-year commitment, you can expect it to be expensive. However, there is a wide range of potential tuition fees and living costs. It is probably best to check our website for the cost of individual courses.

The one financial consideration that is the same wherever you go is that British student finance isn’t going to travel with you; you are on your own financially. This usually means that the decision to study abroad is one that needs to be taken as a family. You definitely need to get their input when trying to decide what is feasible. There is absolutely no point in applying to a university if you know you will not be able to afford to take up your place there. There are currently no medical schools abroad where you have automatic access to student finance.

Scholarships and bursaries are extremely rare but Italian medical and dental schools will take your family’s income into consideration when setting tuition fees for EU students. Many universities that offer financial support to  international students actually make exemptions for students of medicine and dentistry. To put it bluntly, as an international student you are a cash-cow. You will be expected to contribute to the bottom line, not subtract from it.

  1. Do I need an agent to get into medical, dental or vet school abroad?

If you are looking to apply last-minute for 2020 entry, you are almost certainly going to need help. Applications can be complicated procedures but often the part that is least tricky is getting you a place. Obviously, this depends on supply and demand as well as your academic record but if you meet the required standard, and places are available, it is often quite easy to arrange to sit an entrance exam or get an offer letter if this isn’t required.

Meeting the other requirements around payment, translation of documents, moving to a new country etc. are all examples of issues where you might require assistance. However, none of these are of any importance at all if you do not have an offer letter even though some agents will make you pay in full for these services up front.

I can also see it from an agent’s point of view. You are likely to be considering multiple options, sometimes at the same university using different representatives. This can create a conflict of interests and nobody likes to work on the basis that they might never get paid for their efforts.

Some medical schools will actually tell you that they do not work with agents. In this particular case, if you find an agent telling you they can offer you guaranteed entry or that they have an exclusive relationship with the university, they are lying. There are even now some agents who will state on their homepage that they are not agents, simply because the word has become so off-putting to candidates. But think about it: if you are asking someone for help, why shouldn’t they get paid? This is going to happen no matter what a third party might call themselves. As long as they are clear and upfront about who pays for what and how much, what is the problem? If you have this information, you should able to make up your own mind as to whether an agent/representative is useful to you.

There are agents out there who will offer free advice. We work as an agent with a handful of medical, dental and veterinary medicine schools and we do not charge students for our services until you instruct us to get you an offer. However, this also means there are many options where we cannot provide you with in-depth information. There is no point contacting us if you are interested in Bulgaria or Romania, for example. We certainly have nothing useful to say about options in Ukraine, Belarus and points further east although you might want to read this article if you are thinking about Georgia.

One other point that I would like to raise based on recent experience. We had to take down a testimonial on our website because the student concerned was effectively being stalked by strangers on social media. Just because a student is prepared to share their experience online does not mean that they welcome friend requests from strangers. Everyone will react differently to this so I would advise you to err on the side of caution. We can make introductions to students who are at the universities we represent but only once we know a candidate is serious.

  1. What options do I have right now?

As mentioned at the top, probably the best advice is to take some time to think about your next move. However, we appreciate that some of you will want to get on with their studies with limited interruption. All of the options mentioned below still have some places for 2020 admissions. We have outlined basic entry requirements and application processes here but you can find a lot more information by clicking on the links to each individual university.

 

Medicine

  • Humanitas University, Milan, Italy (2020 admission to the MEDTEC degree is still open for EU nationals. Please check the website to see if this degree is suitable for you as it includes a double degree with Politecnico di Milano. Deadline is 28th Entrance exam takes place online on 4th September). This option will not be suitable for all candidates but it is a world-class opportunity for the right student.
  • European University Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus: Admissions are handled on a rolling basis and the last we heard there were about five places remaining. There is no entrance exam. Students will be assessed based on A’ level performance, personal statement, references and interview performance. Please contact us urgently if you are interested.

Dentistry

Veterinary Medicine

  • University of Zagreb, Croatia (2020 final admission round is in early September. Contact us for details.

 

Please feel free to contact us via the blog or on info@astarfuture.co.uk if you would like information on any of the options listed above. You can also call/whatsapp us on 07780503231 but please bear in mind we will be extremely busy on results day with 2020 candidates. If you would like information about 2021 please wait until next week before contacting us.

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How will A’ levels be awarded in 2020 and what does this mean for international university admissions?

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There is still no clear answer to this question and there won’t be one until Ofqual announces its methodology and weighting. This is currently scheduled to happen on 20th August, one week after A’ level results on 13th August.

These observations are based on remarks by Barnaby Lenon, ex-Head of Harrow School and current Chair of the Independent Schools Council, at the Festival of Higher Education organised by University of Buckingham on 7th and 8th July 2020. He covered a huge amount of ground very quickly and it is possible that I might have made minor errors where my analysis is based on an interpretation of his presentation.

There were many other interesting sessions at the festival and I recommend you visit the website where they should be available to download shortly.

How will A’ levels be awarded?

The five criteria on which A’ levels will be awarded are known but their relative weighting has not yet been revealed. The complexity, or indeed impossibility, of sensibly combining these factors is the main reason why this year’s A’ level results cannot be treated as real even though the qualifications themselves are. This year it is unfair for universities to regard a student’s A’ level grades as fair. They may be correct but this will be as much by accident as design. There is a knock-on effect on GCSE results which will certainly impact on students applying to university in 2022 but I will focus here on A’ levels this year.

The five components of A’ level results in 2020 will be:

  1. Predicted Grades aka Centre Assessment Grades: These are the grades that students are predicted by their examination centre which in most cases will be their school. These predictions need not be the same as predicted grades supplied to Ucas as part of the university application process in the UK. There are huge reliability issues with predicted grades. Only 21% of students met or exceeded their Ucas predictions last year. Because of this it is likely that Centre Assessment Grades will be given limited weight. It is foreseeable that there will be significant variation between students’ Ucas predictions, their Centre Assessment Grades and their final results. This could cause anger and resentment.
  2. Rank Order: Within each subject at each centre teachers will be asked to rank all students from best to worst. This ranking is entirely in the gift of schools and will not be challenged by Ofqual.
  3. Students’ prior attainment at Key Stage 2 (SATs) and Key Stage 4 (GCSEs): This is relatively uncontroversial for those students who have this information. However, if students never took SATs they could be disadvantaged. This is a minor issue when compared to the possibility that students might not have GCSEs. Until two years ago when the reforms of GCSEs were completed, many independent schools in the UK used IGCSE exams instead. These results will not be considered. Also, international students who have arrived in the UK to take their A’ levels will be significantly disadvantaged by this requirement and it is unclear how Ofqual will handle this.
  4. School Performance in 2017, 2018 and 2019: The grade distribution that a school achieved in these three years will be used to work out the proportion of students within each school who would ordinarily be expected to achieve a particular grade. The Rank Order will determine the grade each student receives. For example, if a school consistently has 20% of it students achieving A*-A in biology, a similar proportion of its candidates in 2020 will be awarded the same grade.
  5. Comparable Outcomes: This measure looks at the number of students in each subject who achieved each grade across the entire country. The grade distribution is “set in stone” so if 25% of students received a B last year in maths, 25% of students this year will receive a B in maths. This measure is used in normal years to determine grade distribution and is relatively uncontroversial in and of itself.

Aside from the issues highlighted above there are some additional problems with all of these criteria.

  • It is estimated that if A’ level grades were awarded on the basis of predictions without reference to Comparable Outcomes this would immediately lead to 10% grade inflation (according to research from FFT Education Datalab). Students are likely to receive final grades that are below their expectations and this could lead to appeals and challenges.
  • The awarding of a grade when all criteria are available is likely to be most accurate in larger schools in subjects taken by a large number of students and where that school’s performance has been similar in each of the last three years.
  • A’ level grades in less common subjects are likely to be inaccurate. For example, if five students at a school took Russian A’ level last year and all received A*s, any student taking Russian at that school this year is likely to receive an A*. If all received Es, that same student would probably receive an E. This is completely untethered from the ability of the student and the effort they might have put into their studies and, as a result, hardly a fair indication of their abilities. Ofqual has suggested that it will be sensitive to small group bias but how?
  • A related problem will impact on good students at underperforming schools. If a school has consistently achieved at a level below that of its most capable student in 2020, that student might find his or her grades are lower than they would otherwise have been. Ofqual has indicated that on no occasion will schools be allowed to intercede on behalf of students who might be caught out in this way.
  • Some candidates will not be able to provide the information required to receive a grade this year. If there is no record of their prior attainment, this cannot be taken into consideration. If they are taking exams at an external centre, who can provide a prediction and in what way would a class rank be meaningful? For such a student, previous school performance might also be of limited relevance. This will have a huge impact on home-schooled students and those who are resitting A’ levels as an external candidate. These candidates will possibly not receive an A’ level this summer and will have to take the autumn exams (see below).
  • There are an estimated 34 schools in the UK that cannot provide the required information for prior attainment and school performance because they are new. Unless allowances are made, their students will leave school without A’ levels.

There is plentiful scope for things to go wrong so what rights will students and parents have to challenge the results if they feel they are unfair or if they present an obstacle to a student’s onwards journey into higher education?

There are no grounds to appeal the results unless there is a clear administrative error or the wrong data has been used to calculate an assessment. If the process has been followed correctly then all grades will stand. For students who are unhappy with their results there will be an opportunity to sit exams in autumn of 2020 in those subjects where they feel their grades were unfair. If a student takes this opportunity and their examined grade is below their assessed grade they will be allowed to keep the assessed grade although they would certainly hope that any difference between the two would be in the opposite direction. There are no dates set for these exams yet but is to be envisaged that they would happen about 6-8 weeks after A’ level results day. As students might possibly not have undertaken any study or revision since March this year, how likely is it that students could prepare themselves for these exams in such a limited timeframe? What resources within schools would be available to them bearing in mind teachers’ workloads in preparing for full-scale reopening this September?

Assuming the exams in autumn happen as anticipated, students who improve their grades sufficiently might be in a position to start university in the UK from January 2021 but there are no guarantees on offer. I would imagine this would depend very much on new enrolments this October and whether these are significantly below expectations.

What does all this mean to admissions officers in international universities?

  • There is no comparison between a student who receives AAA this year and one who receives AAA in an ordinary year.
  • The reliability of the grades that a student receives will depend on the size of their school and the number of students in the whole country who have taken the same A’ level subjects as them.
  • The grades that a student receives might actually be determined by the hard work of previous cohorts of students at their school and lazy students might find themselves doing better than expected or vice versa.
  • Students at schools that do not neatly fit in to the assessment criteria or students who have a non-standard pathway through UK schools will be severely disadvantaged unless some, as yet unknown, adjustment can be made by Ofqual.

As a result, strictly enforcing entry requirements defined in grades makes almost no sense this year. It is probable that British universities will admit students who do not receive the grades they expected if they possibly can. The sooner we can accept that this year’s students have A’ levels and move on the better.

A far bigger issue, in my opinion, is that this year’s students have probably done no work since March; they have definitely missed out on the intensive deep learning that comes from exam revision. Reintegrating them into the world of academic learning is likely to be a  challenge and it might be difficult for this year’s students to hit the ground running. Getting them up to speed as quickly as possible will be desirable and perhaps university teaching and assessment will need to adapt to make sure this happens. It is likely that British-educated students this year will benefit from a rude awakening upon arrival at university, particularly if they find themselves in classes with students who actually had to take end of high school exams in their own countries.

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The worst case scenario post-Brexit moves a step closer

Screenshot_2020-06-24 Student Support in England Written statement - HCWS310

With the deadline for extending the transition period arriving next week it was inevitable that some announcement regarding tuition fees and student finance would be forthcoming. While the written statement from The Minister of State for Universities refers specifically to EU nationals wanting to study in the UK from 2021 onwards the principle of reciprocity means that there is a very good chance that British students within the EU26 (Ireland is different) will be treated along similar lines.

To summarise, EU nationals who are neither Irish nor have settled status in the UK will have to pay international fees from 2021/22 onwards. They will also lose their access to student loans to cover the tuition fees. This is at least a logically consistent argument – post departure why should a French national be treated any different than a Mexican, for example?

What does this mean for British students looking to go to universities elsewhere in the EU (except Ireland)? Well, it does not explicitly mean anything. We will need to wait for guidelines from each individual member state to outline their intentions. One country, The Netherlands, has already been very clear on this point and the situation for British students there will mirror exactly that of Dutch students coming to UK universities from 2021 onwards. I imagine that other countries will shortly post their post-Brexit positions and that they will broadly similar.

I wouldn’t call what follows “advice” for British students looking at studying in the EU from 2021 onwards but these observations might be useful:

1.If at all possible, acquire a different EU passport before studying. If you can get an EU passport but you won’t have it in time to apply to university, the feedback that we have been receiving is that EU universities will be responsive to your changing your nationality midway through your degree although this is ordinarily to be discouraged.

2. If you or members of your immediate family can establish residency in the EU country of your choice before the end of the transition period (currently 31st December 2020) it is possible that you could guarantee your right to treatment as an EU national in perpetuity. This would have to be in the country where you intend to study. I doubt you could move to France to protect your rights at a Spanish university, for example.

3. Private universities often charge the same fees for EU and non-EU nationals. Fees for medical and dental degrees within the EU will be largely unchanged although your right to means-tested fees might disappear.

4. Some countries in the EU do not currently differentiate between domestic and international students when setting fees. Therefore, you will see no change in the tuition fee you would pay. These countries tend to have fewer Bachelor’s degrees taught in English, or entry requirements that are difficult for British-educated students to meet. Current examples include Spain and most of Germany. This is subject to change, however.

5. Even if you have to pay full international fees at EU universities, these will often still be lower than £9,250 per year. You will have to do without UK student loans and all other automatic rights to EU funding will cease.

6. In some rare instances you might find it easier to gain a place at extremely competitive European universities as it is likely that British students will no longer be competing with EU nationals but with all other students instead. We have identified a handful of examples in Italy where this might be the case.

7. None of this has anything to do with Erasmus. That will fall apart in an entirely different way. All we can say is that British students attending at a British or indeed any EU university would no longer be eligible for Erasmus funding if they were to study abroad at another EU university as part of their degree. It is possible that this will change as the countries involved in Erasmus are not exclusively members of the EU and EEA. However, it will require sensible, adult negotiation so I would predict that things will go horribly wrong before possibly being reconfigured along their current lines.

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Introducing the International HE Webinar Series

The ongoing lockdown of UK and international high schools doesn’t change that fact that students need advice, support and guidance in the same way as they do every year. With this in mind, because we cannot physically visit schools, we have developed our own series of webinars. In each of these sessions we will be joined by a representative of an international university and occasionally one of their British students.

With this in mind, our first three events will focus on:

1. The Netherlands – Everything you need to know about going Dutch in 2021!

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We will be joined by Naomi Eustace of University of Groningen on Wednesday 10th June and again on Tuesday 16th June, at 15:00 on both days.

These webinars will be of most use to those students who have already thought about applying in 2021 but will certainly be helpful to anyone who has already considered that this might be one of their options. Please click on the dates above to sign up to the event that is best for you.

2. Study in the USA – Sensible, affordable routes to US higher education

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This is not the webinar for those wanting scholarships to the Ivy League. We are far more interested in helping those students who have a desire to study in the USA but also an awareness that there is more to that country’s higher education system than a handful of famous universities. Having said that, there is nothing to say that you might not end up there if you were to start on the pathway we outline in this webinar.

Jelle Draper, European Representative of Green River College, as well as one of their former international students, will discuss some of the ways in which you can take advantage of current global uncertainty to gain a US degree in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Join Jelle and me (Mark Huntington of A Star Future) on the webinar on Wednesday 17th June at 15:00. Places are limited and this one will reach capacity!

3. Study Dentistry in Spain

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This webinar will discuss several of the English-taught options available for British students in Spain. In recent years we have been very successful in getting places for British students at Spanish dental schools and they are now graduating and returning to start their careers in the UK.

We fully appreciate that studying in Spain is often seen as a second-choice for those who cannot get places in the UK but that does not mean these are second-rate options, far from it. Also, it is just as necessary to do your homework when thinking about going abroad as it is when planning your UK choices. In order to make sure you have as much information as possible, this webinar will give you the chance to learn from A Star Future as well as Elisa Acquadro of Universidad Europea de Madrid. We are also hoping to be joined by a current student at Universidad Catolica de Valencia.

This webinar takes place on Thursday 18th June at 15:00.

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Which are the best universities in Europe for studying in English?

In the first of an occasional series of YouTube videos we explore the Top 50 European universities in non-English speaking Europe and what they can offer undergraduate students.

While it is perfectly natural to begin a search for the right university by looking for the “best” universities, the tools students usually reach for to do this are not always the most enlightening.

At this stage it is perhaps impossible to wish away the existence of league tables and rankings and, to a certain extent, they can be helpful and informative. However, they do not give a full picture of university life and even if they did, the insight they provide is meaningless if you cannot study there in a language you already speak, usually English.

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#FacingChange – The Prague College Webinar on Advising Students in the age of Covid-19

Earlier this week we were one of the invited speakers in Prague College’s webinar on advising students about international higher education in the time of Covid-19. You can now view the entire webinar online.

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How to advise students on international education in a time of lockdown?

Prague College webinarThe current Covid-19 crisis has thrown up many challenges to our way of life, particularly in any field that involves international travel. Many of the assumptions regarding distance and freedom of movement have been overturned and it is too soon to know what the future will look like in many countries.

Higher education has become one of the most significant global activities in recent years and is thus heavily exposed to this upheaval. Aside from geopolitical and financial issues it is important to remember that it is students who will be the first to experience the new reality of university education. How can we best advise them in this period of uncertainty?

Prague College, an independent university in the Czech Republic offering English-taught degrees, has teamed up with some of its global partners, including A Star Future, to organise a webinar as part of its #FacingChange series of events that was already scheduled to accompany the 2019-20 academic year.

This webinar is for all people advising high school leavers on their university choices for September 2020 during the time of Covid-19 and will feature perspectives from the UK, other European countries and the USA. It will address the following topics and will hopefully provide insight to anyone responsible for managing the transition from a disrupted school education to a disrupted start to university.

(1) How does the Covid-19 pandemic affect choice and opportunity for studying on English-taught undergraduate programmes in Europe? In the UK? In the US?

(2) How will the 2020 academic year be taught and how to advise students given the wide range of possible health, travel and teaching implications?

(3) Understanding the risks and opportunities related to going abroad for university next year.

The webinar takes place on Tuesday 12th May at 15:00 CET. Please register to attend here.

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Watch our study abroad presentation on YouTube.

For the duration of school closures in the United Kingdom you will be able to watch one of our presentations online. Studying abroad takes time to plan so there is still lots that students and families need to think about even if there are lots of additional unknown factors right now.

You can always contact us with any questions you might have. We’re happy to help if we possibly can.

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A Star Future and the Coronavirus

Given the current situation regarding Covid-19 in the United Kingdom, and the fact that at this time schools are still largely open, we have had to take the decision to cancel all of our visits this side of the Easter holidays. We will take a view on our visits after Easter in a few weeks but at this time we are expecting continued interruption. Clearly, at this stage it is not sensible for us or anyone to be visiting school after school.

We will continue to assist students and teachers in the UK remotely and with that in mind we are happy to draw your attention to the following services.

Last week we took the precaution of recording one of our school presentations. We have made this available on YouTube for the duration of the current situation. We are happy for this link to be shared with students and parents. The video lasts for about 32 minutes and if I were able to edit it professionally there are a couple of parts I would have taken out but in general it gives a fair impression of our regular presentation. I would be happy for this to be played as a school assembly or provided as a link for students to use individually. It might be possible for us to be available online via Skype, FaceTime or Zoom to answer any questions at the end the presentation and as our digital learning skills become more advanced we could look at delivering presentations remotely. As we will be spending a lot more time at our desks you can probably expect a quicker reply to any questions you or your students might have.

We would also like to draw your attention to the existing resources on the A Star Future website advisors’ area. Here you can find guides to application processes at European universities as well as guidance about finding the right university for many subjects.

For students who are looking at studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine abroad from this September, we appreciate that the current situation is unsettling. We are working on the assumption that these options will exist but it is highly likely that their entrance exams will be delayed or even cancelled altogether.

Currently, nearly all of our university partners are closed but we are in regular contact by email. If you have questions during this period of enforced avoidance of contact it should still be possible to obtain answers for you.

We look forward to being back out on the road just as soon as possible but for now we believe the only sensible course of action is to restrict our movement.

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