EU Students in UK - Numbers Continue Declining in the Post-Brexit Scenario


Meridean Overseas

Updated On 14 November 2022 & Read Time 5 minutes


EU Students in UK - What is the Issue?

UK universities saw a 40% decline in the number of applications to study in UK from EU students since Brexit. According to the statistics by Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS), a UK-based organisation with the main focus on the application process for British universities, EU student applications decreased by 43 per cent at the national level. The sudden decline went from 49,650 in 2020 to 28,400 in 2021. In contrast to this, non-EU applications have increased by 14%. The admissions body Ucas cited the “uncertainty” sparked by Britain’s exit from the bloc as a reason for the slump in students coming from Europe last year.

EU Students in UK - What is the Issue?

EU students paid tuition, had financial access, were free to travel around, and received a free education in Scotland. Academically and financially competent students could study in the UK. Due to Brexit and the addition of student numbers from the Republic of Ireland, the most recent UCAS data shows a sharp decline in demand for UK universities. Irish students are included in the EU domicile calculation but are nonetheless eligible for financial aid and domestic tuition under the Brexit protocol. Irish students, while a relatively small population, increased their share of applications to the EU by 23% between 2012 and 2021, overtaking all other countries.

While UNESCO data shows that the UK was the first or second most popular destination for 29 countries in 2019, interest has been declining. The latest data displayed a sh decrease in EU acceptances from 2020 to 2021. According to Studyportals, UK course page views saw a 28% drop from 2019 to 2022. Students' interest in undergraduate and postgraduate courses decreased in 10 markets across the continent between 2019 and 2022.

Reason Behind the Decline

The 40% drop of EU students in UK is due to Brexit. The number of EU students admitted to Oxford University has halved in the past five years, according to the University’s annual admissions report, which indicated that the decline was expected due to Brexit. The university anticipated the reduction in the EU admissions due to the changing fee regime occasioned by Brexit, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Louise Richardson, said. The EU students submitted fewer applications to study in the UK after Brexit withdrawal. The figures highlight that 31,670 students applied in 2020-2021, which is 50% lesser than pre-Brexit.

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What is Brexit?

Brexit, which is an acronym for the terms "Britain" and "exit," refers to the United Kingdom's (UK) process of leaving the European Union (EU).

Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union governs how any Member State may depart. This rule states that each EU member has the right to exit according to its national constitution. The EU will engage with this State about the manner of its leaving and its future ties with the EU after notifying it of its decision.

Following the vote on June 23, 2016, and the accompanying notice to the European Council on March 29, 2017, the United Kingdom's departure process got underway.

The Withdrawal Agreement entered into force the following day, regulating the orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU while maintaining the application of the acquis communautaire in their relations until 31 December 2020, even though the UK's departure from the EU took place on February 1, 2020.

The "Trade and Cooperation Accord," an ambitious agreement that amounts to a significant transformation for citizens, businesses, and public bodies in both the EU and the UK, will serve as the foundation for relations between the UK and the EU as of 1 January 2021.

What does the Decline Signify?

The sustainability of post-study employment rights and immigration policy as a motivating factor for recruitment has been called into question by the UK's current political merry-go-round.

The timeliness of this report serves as a reminder that the UK cannot change its geographic location and that stability and diversity are investments that must be made for long-term security. These possibilities are right outside the nation's borders, and there is a growing desire to forge connections with European allies. According to HESA statistics, 395,630 non-EU students and 142,985 EU students studied at higher education institutions in the UK in 2019–20.

EU student applications declined nationwide by 43% between 2020 and 2021, from 49,650 to 28,400, according to data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), a UK-based institution with a primary focus on the admission process for British universities. On the other hand, throughout the same period, applications from non-EU students climbed by 14%.

Can the UK Rebuild its Appeal Among European Students?

The vice-principal of the University of Dundee, Wendy Alexander, said it's possible and reminded her colleagues that expenditure on private education in Europe is high despite the loss of student finances. Students studying in a European international school must pay more than £6,000 per term. It is to note that many students in their senior year are still paying a huge sum of money. So, there are many opportunities for recruiters to recruit.

There is a notable increase in the interest of EU students in UK online courses, suggesting that online learning can re-engage students if the positioning and cost are right. Although there are possibilities of the UK rebuilding its appeal among the students, many still believe that decline will continue, and the UK should consider becoming a part of the European Union.

International Demand for UK Higher Education

There has been a significant increase in international student enrolments in UK higher education institutions since 2000-2001. Student enrolments doubled by the end of the decade. It reached its peak in 2010-2011 with approximately 240,000 first-year enrolments.


The students who wish to study in UK can contact our expert counsellors at any branch of Meridean Overseas Education Consultant (MOEC). Our expert counsellors will guide you for admission and visa support. You can also take free counselling sessions through our website. For more information or queries, mail us at or 1800-1230-00011.

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