UK May Lose up to 84% of Students to Countries like Netherlands, Germany, France

UK May Lose up to 84% of Students to Countries like Netherlands, Germany, France

Netherlands Top Choice for EU Students Unwilling to Pay Higher Fees to Study in UK

The Netherlands stands to gain as an alternative study destination for European students who cannot afford to study in the UK as a hike in study fees is expected in the wake of Brexit. In a written statement to parliament, the British government announced that EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home-fee status. A survey has now revealed that 84% of EU students are not prepared to pay international fees and will look elsewhere with the Netherlands rated as the top choice (49%), followed by Germany (36%).

This could mean a loss of 120,000 students based on recent enrolments, or 25% of all non-UK students, the survey by has revealed. British study fees are already considered to be some of the highest in Europe.

Until now, EU students shared the same status as their British counterparts and as such paid the same fees. They could also access UK government loans to pay those fees. That means, currently, British and EU nationals pay fees of up to £9,250 (€10,210) per year for an undergraduate degree. The fees for international students vary from between £10,000 (€11,040) and £38,000 (€41,945) depending on the university and the degree, University World News reports. Should EU students start paying international fees, this would effectively mean an average fee increase of around 99%.

In recent years, continental European universities have been increasing the number of English-taught courses, and more so since the Brexit referendum in 2016. About 49% of surveyed students said that, with the UK potentially becoming too expensive, they would consider studying in the Netherlands, long a frontrunner for university internationalisation. Other popular alternatives include the mostly tuition-free Germany (36% of respondents), France (19%), Ireland (16%) and Sweden (14%). Higher-fee destinations like the USA, Canada or Australia were only seen by a few as alternatives.

The survey asked students to rate how likely they would be to continue with their plans to study in the UK if fees were to rise by 10, 25, 50, or 100% or more; the latter serving as a proxy for the average fee premium charged to international students. At a 100% increase, 84% said they would “definitely not study in the UK”; only 1% said they would be unaffected by such fees, while 15% said they would be “less” or “much less likely” to study in the United Kingdom.

40% of those surveyed plan to begin their studies in the academic year 2020/21 and would still be charged tuition fees at the Home/EU level; meanwhile, 60% of respondents plan to start their studies in the academic year 2021/22 or thereafter, and would thus be affected by the expected rise in tuition fees.

“This is a lose-lose situation for everyone. It is unfortunate that the political process leads to such negative consequences for students and universities. We hope that some other solution can be found that would promote student mobility between the UK and the EU,” comments Gerrit Bruno Blöss, CEO of

“Beyond the already shocking numbers, British universities have to consider potential domino effects. Less diverse campuses might overall be less appealing to international students, regardless of fees charged.” The proportion of international students is also a factor in popular university rankings, such as those published by Times Higher Education or QS.

WUP 22/7/2020
by James Wittenborg
©WUAS Press