Brexit Q&As for Students

Common questions answered on the implications of Brexit for students.


If you are unable to find a response below, have any further queries or wish to communicate to us about Brexit and how Ulster University can better support you, please email brexit@ulster.ac.uk.

Please note that the answers will be updated on a regular basis and a number of queries are currently in the process of being researched and will be added once confirmation received.

The UK Government triggered Article 50 on 29th March 2017, which provided a two year period, until 11pm on Friday 29th March 2019 to agree a withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU.  In April 2019, this was extended to Thursday 31st October 2019.  

The below answers initially made reference to the date the UK leaves the EU which was initially Friday 29th March 2019, however this is now replaced in the responses below by the term 'exit day' which is now Thursday 31st October 2019.

  • As an EU national Student will I still be able to study at Ulster University and how will Brexit impact on my immigration status?  What is Settled/Pre-Settled status?

    Yes, you will still be able to study and apply to study at Ulster University as an EU national Student.

    The UK Government confirmed there will be no change to the immigration status of EU students and their family members who are already residing in the UK by exit day.

    EU nationals who already live in the UK will be able to apply for ‘settled or pre-settled status’. This will enable them to live, work and study in the UK for as long as they like. The settlement scheme will open fully in March 2019 and close on 30 June 2021 or on the 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

    The EU Settlement Scheme will open fully by 30 March 2019. You may be able to apply now if you meet the criteria.

    An online video produced by Free Movement provides useful guidance on the Settlement Scheme Application process.

    Documentation

    A requirement of the Settlement/Pre-Settlement Application Scheme is that applicants must use the EU Exit: ID Document Check app for mobile phones to confirm their identity. Currently this app is only compatible with updated Android devices.  If you do not have access to an Android device, you have the option to either post away your passport or identification documents or have them scanned to be processed at a local centre.  There is one centre in Northern Ireland located in Belfast.

    UKVI Premium Service Centre  
    Law Society House  
    90-106 Victoria Street,  
    Belfast  
    County Antrim  
    BT1 3GN

    Email europassback@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk to book an appointment to have your documentation scanned at Belfast UKVI Premium Service Centre.

    UK Government Guidance has stated that EU citizens applying to the Scheme from 30 March 2019, will be able to send their passport or other identity documents by post if they do not wish to or cannot use the EU Exit ID Document Check App.

    The following link provides a list of documentation which the UK Government will accept as proof of UK residence.

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-settlement-scheme-evidence-of-uk-residence

    If you choose the option of:

    • letter or certificate from your school, college, university or other accredited educational or training organisation showing the dates you enrolled, attended and completed your course

    Please find details on how to fill in and obtain this document by following this link:

    https://www.ulster.ac.uk/studentadministration/students/current-students/my-academic-record/confirmation-of-attendance

    On 30th March 2019, the UK Government updated information on Assisted Digital support to use the EU Settlement Scheme online application form if you’re in the UK and do not have the appropriate access, skills or confidence to complete the form. This includes details of the locations and home visits for the Assisted Digital Support Service.

    Applying from outside of the UK

    The Gov.UK issued guidance also states that from 9 April 2019, EU citizens and certain family members will be able to apply to the Scheme from outside the UK, free of charge and based on their previous residence in the UK, without needing to travel here to make an online application. For details on this and further updates:  Gov.UK - EU Settlement Scheme:  Applying from Outside of the UK

    It is advisable that for updates concerning the scheme, including detailed information on how to apply once it is fully live, will be posted here.

    Waiver of Fee and Refund update

    In January 2019, the UK Prime Minister announced that settled status will be free for all applicants once the application scheme is fully opened on 30 March 2019.  The Home Office have also now confirmed that those who have paid an application fee during the test phases will receive a refund after 30 March 2019.  If you are due a refund you do not need to do anything and the UK Government will automatically refund the fee to the card that was used to pay it. An email will be sent to the contact address provided in the application, confirming when the refund has been processed.

    Administrative Review

    You will be told in your decision letter if you can apply for the decision on your application under the EU Settlement Scheme to be reviewed. This is called an administrative review.  Updated details are on the Gov.UK website pages.

    Useful links:

    Further information on the arrangements for EU citizens who are not yet resident in the UK can be found in the  Secretary of State for Exiting the EU’s Written Ministerial Statement and the accompanying policy paper issued on 6th December 2018.

    The following links provide up to date guidance from the UK Government as during the UK’s negotiation period with the EU there may be some changes made to the above.

  • I am a student from the Republic of Ireland, what additional measures will I have to take when the UK leaves the EU?

    According to Government Guidance from both the UK and Irish Governments, Irish citizens will continue to have the right to enter and live in the UK. If there is no deal, these rights will continue under domestic Common Travel Area arrangements.

    Even though you do not need to apply for settled status yourself, if you have family members from outside of the UK and Ireland they will need to apply.

    The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have also issued Guidance for those living in the Republic of Ireland.

    Citizens Information Ireland have also issued guidance on Brexit and the Common Travel Area

    Please also see FAQ below on Additional measures required for driving between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

  • Are there future plans for student mobility when the UK leaves the EU?

    The UK Government in its white paper,  The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, committed  to ‘facilitating mobility for students and young people, enabling them to continue to benefit from world leading universities’ once the UK leaves the EU.

    Universities UK (UUK), of which Ulster University is a member, is calling on the UK Government to use the upcoming Immigration Bill to ensure that future academic and student mobility is not impeded by unnecessary bureaucracy regardless of the immigration status of EU/EEA nationals after the UK has left the EU.

    The UK Government is also in negotiations with governments of EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland about the rights of their citizens.

  • As an EU national student, will there be a change to my fees following Brexit?

    Update:  On 4th June 2019, the Student Loans Company confirmed that EU students part way through their higher education courses, or starting in the 2020/21 academic year, will have guaranteed ‘home fee’ status for the duration of their courses in Northern Ireland (for eligible full-time undergraduate students in academic year 2020/21 this means their tuition fee charges will be up to £4,395).

    Students should visit the following links; Our Student Finance Office/s, the Student Finance NI website or NI Direct, for further information and updates on the support available.

    The Department further confirmed that in respect of the future UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI)  arrangements, it is the firm intention of both the Irish and UK Governments to protect the right of UK and ROI students to pursue higher education in the ROI and the UK, respectively.  The Department  will update legislation, as necessary, to ensure that the agreed Common Travel Area rights are properly reflected.

  • Will EU national students continue to be eligible to receive loans and grants?

    EU nationals who are currently in receipt of student loans from Student Finance NI, and EU students applying for university places in Northern Ireland in the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 academic years will continue to have access to student loans and certain grants, even if the course concludes after the UK’s exit from the European Union.

    This applies to all student finance from Student Finance NI for students in Northern Ireland for which EU nationals are eligible and includes certain grants and loans to cover tuition fees.

    EU nationals, or their family members, who are assessed as eligible to receive grants and/ or loans by the Student Loans Company will then be eligible for the duration of their study on that course.

  • After the UK leaves the EU, will professional qualifications I have be recognised?

    The UK Government in its white paper,  The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, has stated its  intention to  establish a system on mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) that covers the same range of professions as the existing MRPQ Directive.

    The UK Government has also issued a 'no deal'  technical notice on professional qualifications in which it confirms that professionals arriving in the UK with EEA and Swiss qualifications after the exit date will have a means to seek recognition of their qualifications.

  • Where can I get further information on the impact of Brexit on EU National students?

    If you would like more information on what is currently known about Brexit and how it may affect European students, UKCISA provide useful guides which can be found at the following links:

  • Will collaborative teaching and student exchange programmes with EU Universities continue after Brexit?

    Collaboration across world-class research, innovation and teaching makes an impact on organisations, local economies and student and staff opportunities.  In the context of Brexit, these links remain vital, fostering a dynamic exchange of talent and ideas through staff and student mobility.  Ulster University enjoys longstanding, mutually beneficial partnerships providing rich student exchanges, innovation or research partnerships.

    Ulster University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon is continually lobbying at the highest level on issues affecting the university, including the recruitment of EU staff and students, research and impact funding and student mobility opportunities and has written to over 300 of our EU partners directly on our desire to continue to build on these well-established and successful relationships.

    We echo the calls across higher education for sufficient funding and the minimising of regulatory barriers post Brexit in order that we can sustain our existing links and seek new ways to work in partnership in the future for the benefit of students, our universities and wider society.

  • What is the status of Erasmus+?

    What is the status of Erasmus+ for Ulster Students?

    Ulster University values and is committed to student mobility to Europe and to continued co-operation with European partners and with partners from across the world.

    There are ongoing updates to the Erasmus+ programme.  We are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to provide further updates as soon as more information becomes available.

    Ulster University would also encourage students to visit our  Go Global webpage, which offers a range of study abroad programmes that offer a flexible range of options and destinations to enhance your study.

    Outside of the Erasmus+ programme which is funded by the EU, the University has a number of  outward mobility programmes for which students can apply.

    Update for students on exchange in Academic Year 2019/20

    The University has now received confirmation of Erasmus+ funding for 2019/20. This follows the receipt of the 2019 Erasmus+ funding contract between the National Agency and the European Commission, and its review and approval by the Department for Education.

    It is important that any students intending to undertake an Erasmus+ placement in Academic Year 2019/20 complete the mobility application form. In addition to this, all students will need to complete the 2019/20 Erasmus+ documentation. Details of this and the grant rates can be accessed on the Go Global webpages.

    The Global Mobility team will be contacting all students who have submitted an application form directly outlining the next steps.

    As always, please contact the team directly if you have any questions (erasmus@ulster.ac.uk).

    A No Deal Scenario

    On the 10 April 2019, the European Council agreed to an extension to Article 50 until 31 October 2019, with a review of this process scheduled for June 2019. During the extension, the United Kingdom will remain a Member State with full rights and obligations and ‘must act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation’.

    There are currently two possible scenarios for the participation of the UK in Erasmus+ until 2020, depending on Brexit negotiations and outcomes:

    1. The UK and the EU reach a deal, which would enable the UK to stay in Erasmus+ until the end of the current programme in 2020.

    This would mean that there are no changes to Erasmus+ in Academic Year 2019/20 and student mobility can go ahead without disruption.

    2. The UK leaves the EU without a deal. The UK’s ability to continue participating in Erasmus+ from exit day would be uncertain.

    Leaving the EU without a deal is now unlikely to have a financial impact on students planning to go abroad in Academic Year 2019/20. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK government announced that it would underwrite a guarantee for EU funded projects before the UK leaves the EU in October. Alongside this, the University will be considering what further actions can be taken to mitigate the risks for students who will be on their Erasmus+ placement at the time the UK leaves the EU.

    Erasmus+ partnerships with European institutions

    It is still unclear if Erasmus+ inter-institutional agreements with European partner universities, which need to be in place to undertake a period of study abroad, would still be valid in a no-deal scenario. Ulster University will be contacting partner institutions with a view to signing additional agreements or securing written confirmation which would be valid in case of a no-deal and have received positive responses from a number. However, we are not able to guarantee that all our existing Erasmus+ partners will continue to work with us which may lead to a reduced list of potential destinations.

    Update for students on exchange in Academic Year 2020/21

    Students should continue planning their mobility period if they are intending to go abroad in Academic Year 2020/21.

    There are currently two possible scenarios for the participation of the UK in Erasmus+ until 2020, depending on Brexit negotiations and outcomes:

    1. The UK and the EU reach a deal, which would enable the UK to stay in Erasmus+ until the end of the current programme in 2020.

    This would mean that there are no changes to Erasmus+ in Academic Year 2020/21 and student mobility can go ahead without disruption.

    2. The UK leaves the EU without a deal. The UK’s ability to continue participating in Erasmus+ from exit day would be uncertain.

    Leaving the EU without a deal may have an impact on students planning to go abroad in Academic Year 2020/21. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK Government as well as the University is considering the potential impact and  is taking  actions to mitigate the risks but students should plan for the likelihood that no additional European Commission funding will be available and the implication is that there would also be no UK Government funding to replace Erasmus+.

    Erasmus+ Successor Programme

    The current Erasmus+ Programme ends on 31st December 2020 (covering the full academic year 2020/21 for exchanges), and it will be succeeded by a new iteration of the programme. This new programme features a pathway for participation for third countries, which leaves the door open for the UK to continue its participation in Erasmus+ beyond Brexit. The UK Government has indicated that it would like to explore this option of associating to the Erasmus+ successor programme with the EU, but there is currently no guarantee that the UK will continue to be part of the programme.

    There are two possible scenarios:

    1. The UK Government secures UK participation in the Erasmus+ successor programme

    In this scenario Erasmus+ exchanges would work in a very similar way as they do now, with a few changes that would be implemented as part of the new programme and which are not confirmed at this point. It is expected that more funding will be available and that the new programme will be more flexible.

    2. The UK Government does not secure UK participation in the Erasmus+ successor programme

    Ulster University is committed to continue working with European partners. It is possible to set-up exchange partnerships with European partners outside of the Erasmus+ Programme, just in the same way as universities already do with institutions outside of the EU. However, there would not be any guaranteed funding at this point, but recommendations have been made to the UK Government to set-up a national mobility scheme that includes funding opportunities if the UK is not going to secure participation in the Erasmus+ successor programme.

    What is the status of Erasmus+ for incoming students?

    Ulster University is currently participating in the Erasmus+ programme, and will continue to do so until further notice.

    Students of any nationality who have been nominated, or are about to be nominated to study at Ulster University through the Erasmus+ programme for 2019/20 will continue to be eligible for Erasmus+ grants from their home institution for as long as the UK remains part of the Erasmus+ programme.

    The EU has given the UK an extension to the Article 50 period for the negotiation of Brexit until 31 October 2019. Although there is still uncertainty about the eventual terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the agreed extension has reduced the risk of the UK leaving the EU without a deal before 31 October 2019.

    Provided the UK Government reaches an agreement with the EU that UK universities can participate in Erasmus+ projects after Brexit, students will be able to come to Ulster University through the Erasmus+ programme until the end of the academic year 2020/21.

    In the event of a Brexit no deal scenario, the UK may be forced to withdraw from the Erasmus+ programme. This could have implications on the funding available to incoming students through their home institutions and is something incoming students should check with their home institution and their National Agency.

    EU, EEA and Swiss nationals studying at Ulster as part of the Erasmus+ programme will not require any kind of immigration permission to do so for as long as the UK remains in the EU. This will continue to apply following the UK's exit from the EU on or before 31 October 2019 provided an agreed deal between the EU and UK includes a transitional/implementation period.

    We appreciate that, given the general uncertainty caused by Brexit, students may have concerns about their Erasmus+ exchange and how this may be impacted by the UK’s planned departure from the EU. We would like to encourage students to continue planning and preparing for study at Ulster. The European Parliament and the Council Regulation (adopted on 19 March) ensures that students who are studying on an Erasmus+ funded programme on the day the UK leaves the EU will not see their mobility period interrupted. Therefore if students will be currently studying at Ulster on the Erasmus+ programme when the UK leaves the EU, then they will be able to complete their study placement here but will need to confirm funding arrangements with their home institution.

    We would also like to provide reassurance of the University’s commitment to support EU students coming to Northern Ireland. We would like to emphasise that Ulster University is committed to continuing exchanging students regardless of the outcome of the negotiations between the EU and the UK.

  • As an EU national, will I be able to apply for a part-time job while studying in the UK?

    In the event of a no deal Brexit, according to UK Government Guidance; work and study will be permitted for those granted leave to remain for 36 months.  Further clarity is being sought as there is no advice on whether both study and work are permitted during the first three months after arrival; however, there is nothing in the advice issued to say that either work or study would be restricted/prohibited.

  • I have experienced problems obtaining Settled Status/Pre-Settled Status - is specialist legal advice on my immigration status available?

    Yes, in the first instance, please direct any enquiries to the Students' Union who will liaise with the Office of University Secretary on your behalf and discuss your concerns with you and explore the next steps available to you.

  • As an EU/EEA national, I currently use a non-UK issued driving licence, will this be valid following Brexit?

    UK Government Guidance has stated that from exit day, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, arrangements for EU and EEA licence holders who are visiting or living in the UK will not change.  Additionally, visitors with EU and EEA driving licences will not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the UK.

    If you are considering changing your current driving licence to a Northern Ireland driving licence, please visit the NIDirect webpage for further information on how to go about this.

    Please note that there has been an increase in unofficial websites offering online driver licensing. You cannot apply for a Northern Ireland driving licence online.

  • I am an EU national applying for Settled or Pre-Settled Status, however I have travelled home and have plans to go on holiday post-Brexit, what impact will this have on my application?

      This will depend on the duration of your stay.

      To be eligible for settled status, UK Government's Guidance outlines that this requires that you lived in the UK for at least six months in any 12 month period for five consecutive years prior to exit day. You’ll need to provide proof of this when you apply.  If you have not lived in the UK for five consecutive years you may still be eligible for pre-settled status.

  • As a UK passport holder, where can I find further information on travelling to EU countries after the date the UK leaves the EU, if there is no deal?

    The UK Government’s current guidance on travelling under UK passports to EU countries is that UK nationals will need a minimum of six months remaining on their existing passport prior to travelling to Europe.  A passport checking service has been provided on the gov.uk website.

    The UK Government has also issued specific guidance for UK passport holders wishing to travel after exit day, in the event of no deal, as new rules will apply depending on the country that you are visiting. There is also additional guidance to cover travel to the EU by land, sea or rail.

  • What are the additional measures required for driving between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as an UK or a Republic of Ireland driving licence holder?

    For UK driving licence holders; the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued guidance (published on 17th January 2019), that if you live in Northern Ireland and drive to the Republic of Ireland or plan to drive your vehicle to mainland Europe after a no-deal Brexit you will need to obtain a Green Card to prove that you are insured.  This can be acquired by contacting your insurer prior to travel.

    Both businesses and individuals are recommended to obtain the Green Card at least one month before intending to travel (after exit day).

    The Green Card is an additional document to your UK driving license, which will be also be required during travel.

    For Republic of Ireland driving licence holders, the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland has issued guidance on Green Cards in the case of a no deal Brexit.  This is a document that is acquired from your insurance company as proof of insurance and is required in addition to your driving licence.

    Government guidance advises that if you hold a UK driving licence you should not need an IDP to drive in the Republic of Ireland from exit day as the Republic of Ireland does not currently require IDPs to be held by driving licence holders from non-EU countries.

    On 13th March 2019, RTE News reported that the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, told the Dáil that there will be a grace period for drivers crossing the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border without a Green Card in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  As yet, there is no legislation or policy announcement that formalises this.

  • Will there be access to healthcare for EU students while at Ulster University?

    In March 2019, the UK Government issued guidance on healthcare for EU and EFTA nationals living in the UK.

    In the event of no deal, the UK Government has confirmed it will protect the rights of EU Citizens living in the UK, lawfully, on exit day, and have specified that this includes entitlements to NHS Cover, which will ensure that can continue to use NHS services as have done so.

    If you are living and studying lawfully in the UK by exit day, you will be able to use the NHS, as you do now, after that date. You should continue to use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), if you have one, until that date, to prove you are entitled to NHS treatment and to avoid being charged for your healthcare.

    If you do not have an EHIC, you can continue to apply for one until exit day from your health insurance authority.

    Swiss and EFTA nationals who start their studies in the UK before exit day will continue to benefit from their EHIC cover for the duration of their course, even if it finishes after the date which the UK leaves the EU.

    The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It is therefore important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy in place before you travel.

    Find out more about healthcare for EU or EFTA citizens visiting UK.

  • Where can I find advice on healthcare access for UK travellers to EU National States?

    The Department of Health and Social Care has issued Healthcare advice for UK Travellers in the event of a no-deal EU Exit.

    The Department's Guidance states that all UK nationals planning to reside in, work or study in EU or EFTA states are strongly advised to check country-specific guidance that has been issued on Gov.UK (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) and NHS.UK (https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/healthcare-when-travelling-abroad/) about healthcare arrangements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

  • What arrangements will I have to make before driving in other EU countries (except NI) if I have a UK driving licence?

    In the event of no deal being agreed, UK drivers who are taking their car to, or driving in EU countries (except for the Republic of Ireland), may require additional documentation alongside their UK driving license.  Click below for guidance on International Driving Permits (IDPs).

    On 28 March 2019, the type of international driving permit (IDP) that some countries outside the EUand EEA changed.

    UK driving licence holders now need a 1969 IDP to drive in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, French Polynesia, Georgia, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Niger, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zimbabwe.

    UK Government:  International Driving Permits for UK drivers from 28 March 2019 for updates.

  • As an Irish passport holder, where can I find further guidance?

    The Irish Government has published guidance online for Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland on a range of issues including access to healthcare, cross-border travel and rights which can be accessed at the following link:  https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/060fdf-northern-ireland/

    A UK exit from the EU does not change anything regarding entitlement to Irish citizenship.  Further information is available on the Irish Government's Department of Foreign Affairs' website at https://www.dfa.ie/passports-citizenship/citizenship/