Brexit: consequences for LLM students

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Brexit: consequences for LLM students

Over a month after the world woke up to the news the UK had decided to leave the European Union, the tide seems to have calmed down. Yet uncertainty continues to linger among those who wish to pursue their higher education studies, such as LLM degrees, in British universities


For Brexit to actually take place, the UK has to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The country will then have two years to negotiate the terms of the divorce. However, there are several opinions that cast doubts on this happening in reality and the UK foreign secretary has indicated that it could take longer for the process to be completed.


The UK government’s message to students


The UK’s Minister of State for Universities and Science issued a statement to say that the UK will continue to meet its obligations and will receive relevant funding. There will be no immediate changes to the current situation and the referendum result will not affect students studying in the EU, beneficiaries of Erasmus+ or those considering applying in 2017. The statement goes on to say that EU students currently eligible to receive loans and grants from the Student Loans Company will continue to do so for courses they are currently enrolled on or those about to start this coming year.


Reactions from universities across the UK


Let’s quickly glance through reactions from leading universities in the UK reacting to the referendum outcome before looking at its possible impacts on LLM students. Universities hammered home the same message in an attempt to reassure students that no immediate change was foreseen as a result of the referendum outcome.


Queen Mary University of London’s President and Principal, Professor Simon Gaskell is of the view that the form the EU exit will take is uncertain and will probably remain that way for some time as the UK enters negotiations likely to last a number of years. He also recognized that there may be particular anxiety amongst colleagues from other EU countries at this point in time. EU students beginning their studies at Queen Mary this year willbe relieved to know that course fees will remain the same as those for home students for the normal duration of their programme.


Other London-based universities such as University College London and King's College London similarly issued statements that the vote to leave the European Union did not lead to any immediate material changes to the immigration status of current and prospective students and staff, nor to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+.  


An article in the Times Higher Education condensed the discussion around the EU referendum outcome by listing out facts about the impact of Brexit on the UK and the EU and has brought together reactions from key influencers in the higher education sector across the EU.


From the UK’s perspective, University UK, an advocacy organization for universities in the United Kingdom that helps shape the higher education policy agenda, has gone a bit further and posted a dedicated link on Brexit FAQs. It attempts to answer questions such as:


  • Will EU students still be able to study at UK universities?
  • Will EU students continue to be eligible to receive loans and grants?
  • Will the UK continue to have access to EU funding for research and innovation and be able to apply for EU research grants under Horizon 2020?
  • Will UK universities still be able to employ staff from other EU countries?


We would advise you to regularly check college websites especially the ones that you plan on applying to for an LLM degree.


Impact of Brexit on LLM students

So, what are the areas of concern concerning Brexit and how will it affect LLM students?

1.Changes to tuition fees:

Prospective students will be apprehensive that Brexit is set to cause an inevitable rise in tuition fees across all UK universities. Although this is likely to happen in the future, no immediate changes are expected for the moment, including in the circumstances of British citizens living in the EU and vice versa. This would also cover those studying or working at UK universities.

2.EU Funding towards UK HE sector

As you may be aware, there has been a lot of news around universities/science projects possibly losing vital funding if Britain left the EU. However, there are also differing views that a Brexit situation would allow the government to take back control of the money sent to the EU and to make choices on how to spend these funds.  Although it is unclear as to what this would mean for a student interested in pursuing for instance, an LLM or legal research, it is likely to cause an increase in the number of students paying international fees.

3.Access to scholarships and bursaries:

Future LLM students may also wonder if they would still be eligible for the wide-range of funding options through the EU scholarship programmes to study in the UK. It has been clarified for the moment that EU students will continue to receive funding for the duration of their courses. If you have specific queries at all on how to go about applying for funding on your course for an LLM programme for 2017-18, then its best that you contact the college that you are interested in applying to directly.

4.Entry requirements

It has been made clear that students who are already in the UK or who have an offer to study in a law school will not see an immediate change to the UK’s visa policies.  Universities across the UK have provided information to students considering future applications to the UK for their postgraduate studies- don’t forget to check their websites for regular updates on this!