Brexit Youth Boost: Student numbers rise, defying doom-mongers

And Brexit has ended £bns of UK subsidies for educating EU’s youth

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2022

At last we are treating Austrian students the same as Australian and American students

The official figures for students in UK higher education have now been published for 2021 by UCAS, showing an increase of almost 21,000 students enrolled since the UK left the EU.

Against all the usual doom-mongering about the effect of Brexit on our universities and colleges, it turns out that not only have student numbers increased but educational institutions are now able to benefit from greater incomes.

Numbers up, potential incomes up, EU27 subsidies down

Today we look at higher education and how removing the subsidies for EU students receiving tuition fees and student loans (that were often never repaid) is creating more places for British students - up by 29,390.

We also show how the UK is now treating all international students equally, with more non-EU students gaining entry - up by 12,595.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Total student numbers increase in first post-Brexit year

  • Overall student numbers in UK up by 20,790
  • British student numbers up by 29,390
  • Non-EU international student numbers up by 12,595
  • EU27 student numbers down by 21,195
  • NET EFFECT: An increase in all student numbers of 2.9% - ‘despite Brexit’

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - click to enlarge

UK-funded tuition fees for EU students

Following Brexit the UK can now charge EU citizens the same price as international non-EU students for attending UK universities. Previously, EU rules meant EU citizens at UK universities were entitled to the same lower fees as were charged to UK citizens. In effect, this meant the UK taxpayer subsidising EU students. In many cases, university fees are not repaid for many years – if at all.

UK-funded student loans for EU students

Similar to the above arrangements for tuition fees, EU citizens were entitled to UK student loans on the same favourable terms as UK students in each jurisdiction. A 2017 study found that the UK’s Student Loans Company had failed to recoup £1.2 billion of loans from EU27 students, particularly those who had moved home or out of the UK after attending university. Very simply EU students were able to apply for loans knowing that they could easily avoid ever paying them back. This benefit to EU students has now ended.

The ‘free’ Scottish tuition fee subsidy

The rule on tuition fees applied to the jurisdictions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland charging the fees within the UK. Thus when the Scottish Parliament retained free tuition fees for ‘home’ students the same free fee arrangements had to be made available to EU students.

In one of the most partisan moves of the SNP Government in Edinburgh, students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland were not given the same free tuition as students from the EU – but were charged for their tuition. This policy has had to end from the academic year 2021/22 with EU students now charged the same international student rate.

The unintended consequence of this policy was that to afford the cost of ‘free’ tuition for Scots and EU students (as the universities still have to be paid for the student place) a limit was put on Scots’ student numbers. To make up for this ‘cap’ Scottish universities were giving preference to the more 'lucrative' English, Welsh and Northern Irish students at the expense of ‘home’ Scottish students being denied places.

Teaching people to speak English

Thanks to Brexit the UK can now more reasonably manage the cost to the public exchequer of providing English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) lessons for free movement families.

Associated with the above is the unquantified but significant cost to the taxpayer of providing EFL in secondary schools for the children of EU free movement families.


It is interesting to look through the various economic and social studies conducted by universities and educational vested interests as they looked for arguments to defend open access to UK higher education for EU students. The focus was always on the loss of income to the universities or the economy and never on the savings to the hard-pressed British taxpayer who was to all intents and purposes subsidising EU students to study in the UK.

Yes, raising tuition fees to the same level that a student from Australia or North America would be expected to pay would inevitably reduce numbers and therefore university income and the generation of local economic activity. This, however, would be offset by the remaining EU students paying the higher international fee - in some cases significantly higher.

It would also mean the gap created by those EU students deciding that without a subsidy they would not come to our shores would be filled by international students paying the full fee. This is indeed beginning to happen. This latter cohort will bring significant revenues to British universities.

We recall the howls of anguish and protests in the early 80s when the Education Secretary, Mark Carlisle, allowed universities to charge ‘Overseas Student Fees’ at an economic rate compared to the domestic rate (that was ‘free’ but paid by the public purse). The protesters argued overseas students would be priced out of attending and numbers would drop – but the reverse happened. Universities recognised there was now a new revenue stream to be exploited and very quickly Overseas Students (now called International Students) mushroomed. The protests disappeared and were very quickly forgotten.

The point here is that those defending the open access to EU students granted through freedom of movement forget how discriminatory it was against students from Africa, Asia, South America, North America and many non-EU European countries.

Now Brexit Britain can treat all international students equally. The argument that our universities will be bereft of international cultures and life experiences is completely wrong. As a result of Brexit our campuses can now be even more diverse and culturally enriching for all the students attending. We think the figures in the table above show this is the direction of travel for our universities.

Another Rejoiner myth put to the sword.

You will NEVER hear the alternative to Rejoiner myths in the liberal pro-EU media and especially not the BBC, Guardian or Mirror. Facts4EU believes you should know the truth.

Our hard work in preparing these reports does not, however, come cost free, however…

Facts4EU.Org needs your financial support today

We are a 'not for profit' team (we make a loss) and any donation goes towards the actual work, not plush London offices, lunch or taxi expenses, or other luxuries of some organisations.

We badly need more of our thousands of readers to donate – no matter how small an amount it all helps. Could this be you, today? Maybe you've been thinking about it, but just haven't got around to doing it? If so, let us reassure you. It's quick and easy and we use two highly secure payment providers. And we do NOT ask you for further donations if you donate once - we just hope that you keep supporting us. Your donation stays anonymous unless you tell us otherwise.

Please don't assume that other people will keep us going - we don't receive enough to survive and we need your help today. Could you help us?

Most of our readers are well-informed and appreciate our fact-based articles, presented in a way you won't see anywhere else. If you value reports like the one above, please help our work with a donation. We have far more to do in researching, publishing, campaigning and lobbying Parliament than we have in terms of the financial resources to fulfil these tasks. We badly need funding to continue - we rely 100% on public donations from readers like you.

If you believe in a fully-free, independent, and sovereign United Kingdom, please make a donation now. It’s quick, secure, and confidential, and you can use one of the links below or you can use our Donations page here. You will receive a personal, friendly ‘thank you’ from a member of our team within 24 hours. Thank you for reading this.

[ Sources: UK Gov official statistics | Department of Education | UCAS ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Friday, 11 February, 2022

Click here to go to our news headlines

Please scroll down to COMMENT on the above article.
And don't forget to actually post your message after you have previewed it!

Share this article on

Something to say about this? Scroll down for reader comments

Since before the EU Referendum, Brexit Facts4EU.Org
has been the most prolific researcher and publisher of Brexit facts in the world.

Supported by MPs, MEPs, & other groups, our work has impact.

We think facts matter. Please donate today, so that we can continue to ensure a clean Brexit is finally delivered.

Any credit card user

Quick One-off


From £5 - £1,000



From £3 per month

Paypal Users Only - Choose amount first

Quick One-off