A decision to end the payment of home fees by EU students studying at British universities was discussed on Saturday between Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides and the UK’s Minister for Europe Wendy Morton.
Earlier in the week, the Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan said EU, EEA and Swiss nationals would no longer be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England courses starting in the academic year 2021/22.
This sparked concern among Cypriot students that they would see a hefty increase in fees.
A petition was started on change.org by students in Cyprus calling for a rethink on the potential fee increase.
“The recent announcement by the UK Government indicates that students from the European Union will no longer be eligible for Home Fee Status and Student Loans for the Academic Year 2021/22,” the petition said.
It notes that fees could rise from £9,250 to above £20,000 for the Social Sciences, above £30,000 for courses relating to Sciences and Engineering and above £40,000 for Medicine.
“Considering accommodation and living expenses, the cost of studying in the UK will sit in a range of £30,000 to well over £50,000,” the petition said.
According to the petition, male Cypriot students have also been discriminated against. Although they have completed school in 2020, they won’t be able to start university until 2021 due to compulsory military service.
However, commenting on the matter to daily Phileleftheros, the CEO of education consultancy Global Educational Services Chris Sofroniou said he was optimistic the decision would not include Cypriot students.
He said in the event of a more positive approach to the Brexit agreement between the UK and the EU; a clause could be included in education for EU students.
He added universities in the UK looking to keep their EU students could adjust their prices through policies and scholarships, despite the government issuing a maximum fee.
Sofroniou said Cyprus could also utilize its status as a member of the Commonwealth to achieve better prices for its students.
“It is in Britain’s interest to be accommodating despite any decision, as there is large income from European students studying and staying at their universities,” he said.
Currently, international students in the UK pay fees that can range up to £18,000 depending on the study’s course.