Theresa May, the prime minister of the U.K., is expected to face backlash over a proposal in which EU nations would pay the same rate as other international students to study at U.K. colleges and universities.
According to a report in The Financial Times, critics of the proposal contend the move would hurt the competitiveness of U.K. universities. It would also result in tens of thousands of EU students paying more money after 2021 when the U.K. exits the European Union. The increase in fees to study in the U.K. is also raising worries that students wouldn’t opt to come to U.K. schools which would hurt the talent coming to the U.K. The paper pointed to internal studies by the government that say raising the tuition could lower the number of students from the bloc studying in the U.K. by as much as two-thirds. “There is a good amount of talent here and we want to maintain that,” said one person briefed on Treasury thinking in the Financial Times report. “The discussions are just beginning, but the Treasury is in favour of the status quo.”
The proposal will put May at odds with liberals in the cabinet who want to see as little an impact on the economy from the Brexit as possible. The proposal was put forth by May loyalist Damian Hinds, who has asked other cabinet members to weigh in. No final decision on if the policy will be enacted was made, noted the paper.
As it stands, EU students are treated as if they were based in the U.K. with tuition capped and students eligible for loans underwritten by the government. The new proposal would be applicable to any student starting classes in the 2021/2022 school year. By then the U.K. would have left the EU and the transition period would be over. Supporters of the idea say the EU bloc students should be treated the same as someone from India or the U.S. and that the government should not have to underwrite loans for them.