(The page was last updated on 23 April 2021)

This page provides practical advice for current students from the EU and other students considering travel to Europe.

If you have any general queries relating to Brexit, please contact brexit@abdn.ac.uk, and we will direct you to the most appropriate source of help.


What does Brexit mean for current undergraduate & postgraduate students?

All our students, including those from the EU and around the world, are valued members of the University of Aberdeen family. We are committed to taking care of them and making their time at the University special.

While Brexit will not change the tuition fee status of current EU students, there may be changes in immigration rules, and access to exchange programmes such as Erasmus+ may change. Your rights to study and live in the UK will not change until 31 December 2020. You will find more detailed information about these issues below.

Should I apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

It is very important to confirm your immigration status in the UK before 30 June 2021.  This means obtaining immigration permission from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) which is the UK Government department responsible for the UK’s visa system.

Unless you have entered the UK on a Student visa; have entered as a Visitor for 6 months; or have already obtained status under the EU Settlement Scheme and this is still valid, you must take action as soon as possible to apply.

EU/EEA/Swiss students who are in the UK without any of the above and who do not apply for status before 30 June 2021, will become overstayers on 1 July 2021.  This means that they will be here illegally and cannot submit an application from within the UK.

Irish citizens do not need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, but they can if they want to.

Is it too late to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme?

The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.  However, please note to be eligible to apply:

  1. You must have started living  in the UK before 31 December 2020.  This will mean that you have established your residence in the UK.
  2. You must not have exceeded the permitted periods of absence which are explained below.

What status will I get?

  • You will be able to apply for settled status under the scheme if you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years (as explained in point 3 below).
  • If you have not been in the UK for 5 years, you can apply for pre-settled status.

What are the permitted periods of absence?

If you are intending to apply for settled status, you will need 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK.  This means that for 5 years in a row you’ve been in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 6 months in any rolling 12-month period. The exceptions to this requirement are:
compulsory military service of any length

  • time you spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant
  • time you spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces
  • one period of up to 12 months for an important reason (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting – this may also include the recent impact of Coronavirus)

Placements linked to your studies such as Erasmus, Study Abroad and a course industrial placement are classed as an important reason.

How long am I allowed to be absent for Coronavirus reasons?

Coronavirus-related absences of up to 12 months will be regarded as acceptable.

“If you are a student who was studying in the UK and are studying outside the UK because of coronavirus, that absence will not cause you to break your continuous qualifying period, where it is for a single period of more than 6 months but not more than 12 months, during your 5-year continuous qualifying period. The EUSS allows for a single absence up to 12 months for an important reason, including serious illness and study.”

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-eu-settlement-scheme-guidance-for-applicants#if-your-continuous-qualifying-period-in-the-uk-has-been-affected

 

Do I need to provide proof of a Coronavirus-related absence?

If you are absent for Covid-related reasons, it is advisable to keep any documents that can be provided as evidence.  This would be such things as proof that your course was online, University guidance not to come on campus, official Government guidance not to travel to the UK, and proof that the travel between your home country and the UK was disrupted.

If I already have pre-settled status but have previously been absent for 12 months, is there anything I can do?  

In certain circumstances, you can apply again for pre-settled status as long as you re-entered the UK before 31 December 2020.  This means that the period of residence on which you are basing the second application must have started before 11pm on 31 December 2020.  Pre-settled status is granted for a period of 5 years. 

The Citizens’ Rights Project in Scotland has produced a video presentation on the subject of absence and you  can also contact them for further guidance on making a second application.

If you have pre-settled status, the settled status clock cannot be restarted if you have exceeded the permitted periods of absence and have returned to the UK after 31 December 2020.  The Free Movement blog explains the risks of exceeding the permitted absence limit, particularly when returning to the UK after 31 December 2020.

Can I change from pre-settled status to settled status?

If you have not exceeded the permitted periods of absence, you can apply for settled status after 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK.  You can do this as soon as you reach this point.  You do not have to wait until the date granted for your pre-settled status; however, you must apply before your

pre-settled status expires.  Remember, tyu may be able to extend your pre-settled status as mentioned above.

Can I leave the UK once I have been granted pre-settled or settled status?

Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (unless granted to Swiss citizens) will be lost after a continuous absence of more than 5 years from the UK and Islands. 

Settled status granted to Swiss citizens under the EU settlement Scheme will be lost after a continuous absence of more than 4 years from the UK and Islands.

Pre-settled status will be lost after a continuous absence of more than 2 years from the UK and Islands. 

If status is lost and you are no longer eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will only be able to apply under any other category of the Immigration Rules in place at the time you wish to come to the UK.

Will I lose my pre-settled status if I have been absent from the UK for up to 12 months?

You will only lose your pre-settled status after an absence of more than 2 years from the UK and Islands; however, if you have exceeded the permitted periods of absence (as shown in point 2 above), you may not be able to qualify for settled status in the future.

Can I go on an Erasmus, Study Abroad or study-related work placement?

If you have pre-settled status, you can take one of these options; however, do remember that if you exceed your permitted periods of absence, you will not be eligible to apply for settled status.

For example:

Karl came to the UK in September 2019 to start his degree course.  His pre-settled status was granted in February 2020.  He left the UK in June 2020 due to Coronavirus restrictions but then returned to the UK in April 2021.  Karl wants to do an Erasmus placement starting in September 2021 for the academic year.

Karl can do the placement because he has pre-settled status and as long as he will not be outside the UK for a continuous period of more than 2 years.  He will then want to apply for settled status in September 2024 when he has lived in the UK for 5 years.  However, between September 2019 and September 2024 he will have had 2 periods of absence from the UK which both exceed 6 months.  This will break his 5 years’ continuous residence and he will not be eligible for settled status.

If you already have settled status, you can be absent from the UK for 5 years without the absence affecting your status.

Can I access healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK as an EU national?

Until you have been granted pre-settled or settled status, you are not covered under the NHS.

Once you have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme and as long as your status is still valid, while you are resident in the UK you will be covered for healthcare under the National Health Service (NHS) for treatment in the UK alone.  Some charges apply for dental treatment.  Prescriptions and eye tests are currently free in Scotland.

It is still advisable to have travel insurance with a health element because neither the Scottish Government nor NHS Scotland can pay for repatriation costs in the unfortunate event of a serious illness or accident when you might need to get back home quickly.

If you do not hold settled or pre-settled status, unless you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of a visa application under the Immigration Rules, you should ensure that you have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) to cover any illness while in the UK.  This is particularly important during the “grace period” until 30 June 2021.

Does the UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) still exist?

If you are an EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic or Liechtenstein citizen, and you've been living in the UK since before 1 January 2021, you might be able to apply for a new UK EHIC

Can I work during and after my studies?

If you have pre-settled or settled status, there are no restrictions on the type of work you can do or on the number of hours you can work.

How do I prove my right to work?

Until 30 June 2021, you can continue to prove your right to work in the UK using your passport or national ID card.

If your application to the EU Settlement Scheme is successful you will be given online access to your immigration status, which you can use to prove your right to work in the UK.  You can do this using the online Right to Work service.  If you already have settled or pre-settled status, you can choose to use that status to prove your right to work now (instead of your passport or national identity card), but it will only become mandatory to evidence your EU Settlement Scheme status after the 30 June 2021.

What do I do if am not eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme?

You will come under the Immigration Rules which means:

  •  If your course is longer than 6 months, you need to apply for a Student visa

You should note that there are restrictions on the number of hours you can work on a Student visa.  For degree courses you can work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time hours over the holiday period.  Please check to make sure you understand what term-time means for your programme of study.

  • If you are coming to the UK for a short course of up to 6 months, you can enter on a Standard Visitor visa

If you have a biometric passport, you can use the eGates on entry to the UK for a visit of 6 months or less which means you are unlikely to encounter a Border Force Officer. Nevertheless, it is still advisable to carry proof of the reason for your visit and to keep some form of evidence of the date of arrival in the UK, such as an e-ticket or boarding pass.

Work is prohibited on this type of visa and you cannot extend your stay in the UK beyond    6 months.

For healthcare, it is advisable to obtain independent travel insurance, with a health element that fully covers your particular circumstances, before you travel to Scotland.  This is regardless of the healthcare that you may be able to access under European or other reciprocal arrangements and because neither the Scottish Government nor NHS Scotland can pay for repatriation costs in the unfortunate event of a serious illness or accident.”

This insurance should also mean that you are covered in the rest of the UK, such as for prescription charges in England.

How do I apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

If you are an EU/EEA national already in the UK and want to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021 you should apply for Settled or pre-settled status. See the UK Government website for further information about who should apply and how to submit.

Will EU nationals need a visa to enter the UK after Brexit (deal or no-deal)?

If you are an Irish citizen you will be able to enter the UK without a visa, as now. Other EU/EEA nationals will also be able to enter without a visa. However, to enter and stay beyond December 2020 you will need to either have Settled/Pre-Settled Status (for those EU nationals already in the UK before no-deal exit) or a European Temporary Leave to Remain (valid for 3 years). See UK Government Guidance on visiting the UK after Brexit for further information.

Will UK nationals need a visa to visit Europe after Brexit?

UK nationals should be able to travel to the EU without a visa for short visits up to three months, but there may be additional checks at customs. You can find more information about requirements for travel to EU at UK Government website.

Will Brexit affect my tuition fees?

There will be no change to the fee status of current EU students enrolling in 2019 and 2020, even if there is a no-deal exit from the EU. Students enrolling in September 2020 will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students as before and will retain that status for the duration of their studies.

How does Brexit affect students in the Erasmus+ programme?

The University of Aberdeen continues to lobby for the UK’s full participation in Erasmus+ after Brexit. We are committed to our international partnerships and to providing international opportunities for our students and staff.

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will be a full participant in Erasmus+ until the end of the current seven-year funding cycle (2014-2020). This includes funding received under 2020 projects, which covers activities taking place in academic years 2020/21 to 2022/23 (up to May 2023).

We do not yet know if the UK will participate in the next seven-year funding cycle of Erasmus (2021-2027), but we continue to lobby for this outcome. We will also continue to work with our partner institutions in Europe in order to maintain our reciprocal exchanges, regardless of whether we are part of the Erasmus programme or not.

Can I still apply for the Erasmus+ programme?

The University of Aberdeen will continue to encourage students to spend time abroad as part of their degree, be that in Europe or further afield. We are working closely with our European partner institutions to ensure that exchanges can go ahead, regardless of the Brexit outcome.

For those applying for European destinations in academic years 2021/22 and 2022/23, you will continue to have access to Erasmus funding for study exchange and traineeships until May 2023.

Beyond that, we don’t yet know if we will continue to have access to the Erasmus+ programme or a UK national successor scheme. Both schemes should include an element of funding, however, it would be advisable for students interested in going abroad beyond 2022/23 to budget accordingly.

My programme has a compulsory year abroad – if I am unable to go, will I still get a degree?

Opportunities to spend time abroad will continue to be available post-Brexit, though from 2023/24 access to funding may be limited. Students with a compulsory period abroad would be advised to budget accordingly.

Please note that those spending a semester or year abroad would continue to pay their tuition fees to the University of Aberdeen, so there are no tuition fees due to a host institution; however, you should expect to cover other living costs such as accommodation, food, books, etc (as you would if you were in Aberdeen).

Students with concerns about the affordability of spending time abroad would be advised to contact the Go Abroad team to discuss their options.

Information for our Erasmus+ partner institutions in Europe

The University of Aberdeen is committed to and values our international partnerships. Until further notice, we will continue to welcome your students to Aberdeen under Erasmus+. We hope to continue our valued partnership beyond Brexit, whether that is under the auspices of Erasmus+ or another framework.

As UK national, will I need health insurance to travel to the EU?

Your EHIC will continue to be valid in the EU during the transition period (until 31 December 2020). However, we would advise you to buy travel insurance which includes healthcare treatment when travelling to EU countries, just as you would when visiting a non-EU country. See the NHS website for further information about travel abroad.

After Brexit will my qualifications still be recognised across Europe?

Recognition of academic qualifications will continue for EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa. The UK has indicated that it will also continue to recognise EU professional qualifications after the UK’s departure from the EU. The recognition of academic qualifications falls under the European Higher Education Area and is a voluntary commitment which is not linked to EU membership, so it should not be formally affected by Brexit.

How might Brexit affect my employment prospects after graduation?

The populations of member states of the EU are entitled to free movement of labour across Europe. However, if the UK is no longer subject to free movement of labour, it could be harder for UK nationals to secure work in any one of the remaining countries of the EU.

As a result, visas or work permits may be required to work in Europe, which may make securing a job in Europe less straightforward than it is currently. This would also apply for EU nationals seeking employment in the UK.

Much will depend on the deal that is reached when the UK leaves the EU and any potential deals may still include free movement as a condition. But regardless of what happens, the Careers and Employability Service will be there to support all our students.

Useful Websites


If you have further questions about your status in relation to Brexit, please contact brexit@abdn.ac.uk