Crackdown on EU students' support funding

By Katherine Sellgren
BBC News education reporter

  • Published
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The government says the package will bring the UK into line with other EU countries

The government is to make it harder for students from other European Union countries to get financial support for their living costs in England.

Currently, EU nationals who have lived in the UK for three years can apply for support for maintenance costs.

But from this autumn, new EU students in England will need five years of residency to qualify for assistance.

The government said the move was not related to the EU referendum and British relationships with the EU.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the department undertook a consultation on the issue last year and the move was about ensuring greater sustainability in the funding for higher education and bringing the UK into line with other EU countries.

The announcement means that EU nationals who start their courses in the academic year 2016-17 onwards will be required to demonstrate five years' residency in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.


In a written statement to Parliament, Universities Minister Jo Johnson said the change would bring the UK into line with the rules applied by other EU countries, such as Germany and France , "who generally require five years' residency in the home country before students become eligible for living cost support".

He said: "The higher education student support budget is under pressure from increasing numbers of applicants from the EU, and the government is taking steps to manage the burden on the taxpayer.

"The government is therefore increasing the residency requirement that EU nationals must meet in order to be eligible for living cost support."

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The increased residency requirement will not apply to UK nationals

The increased residency requirement will not apply to UK nationals and the existing three-year residency rule will continue to apply to them.

EU students who are already studying, as well as migrant workers from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and their families, are not affected by the change.

Other changes to the student support package from this autumn mean maintenance grants for students from lower-income homes are being scrapped.

New maintenance loans will replace the grants, with full-time students eligible for a means-tested loan of up to £8,200.