Our grantees| Lukáš Knápek| End of my studies in the EU?
28. February 2019 Lukáš Knápek

End of my studies in the EU?

That’s right, this time it‘s going to be all about this year‘s hottest topic. It‘s Brexit time!

I couldn’t really recall when all this entire process started in the first place. Much to my surprise, the initial Brexit referendum happened in June 2016. This means that I have started studying in the UK in time when it was already clear that the country would sooner or later exit the EU.

I did not think about Brexit nearly at all during the last two years. I kind of assumed that it would take a long time before anything specific happened. But that time has just come. Great Britain is officially going to exit the European Union on 29 March 2019. And right now, there is no post-Brexit deal between the two parties.

How did that happen? In short, the current prime minister, Theresa May, attended many negotiations with the EU representatives and together they created a deal that had to be voted for by the British parliament. This vote took place on January 15 and the deal suffered a historic defeat. May has managed to hold onto her position as the PM and is currently trying to forge a better deal. That might prove to be difficult as EU officials went on the record saying they are not open to any new changes.

Given the circumstances, it would seem wise to at least delay Brexit for a while. This is an option the UK has, but it was voted against on 29 January.

The decisive step will be a series of votes held on 12, 13 and 14 March.
On 12 March, MPs will vote on the May’s deal again. If the vote succeeds, Brexit will occur according to the deal.
If not, MPs will vote on 13 March on whether to leave the EU without a deal. If the vote succeeds, the no-deal Brexit will happen. According to many sources, this would have very negative effects for the UK.
If not, MPs will vote on 14 March on whether Brexit should be delayed. If the vote succeeds, the UK won’t leave the EU at the end of March but sometime later. This additional time would be used for further negotiation and May said that it would by just one-off delay.
It might be that neither of the votes will pass. In that case, no-deal Brexit will remain the default outcome. However, during the time before that happens, other MPs can propose votes on their own. And possible options include a second referendum or cancelling the exit process altogether.

But what does this really mean for us, European students in Scotland?

The first part is the right to live and work (and study) in the UK once it exits the EU. Current EU members have to sign up for the EU Settlement Scheme until 30 June 2021 (31 December 2020 in case of no-deal Brexit). The applicants will then obtain one of two possible statuses – settled (has lived in the UK for at least five years), or pre-settled. At the moment they are not that much different (settled status holders can apply for British citizenship) and they both allow the holder to study in the UK and use the NHS.

The second part is tuition fees. In Scotland, undergraduate tuition fees are paid for by the Scottish government. Current higher education minister announced that Scotland will pay for tuition fees during the entirety of the studies for all new students starting their programme in academic year 2018/2019 or 2019/2020. The current Brexit situation is dramatic because no one really knows what exactly is going to happen on midnight on 29 March. It will be interesting to observe the consequences of this political process and how it will affect the British society.

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