Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said on Tuesday he and his UK counterpart Dominic Raab decided to continue talks on a British decision to exclude EU students from paying home fees at English universities as of 2021.
Last week, UK Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan announced as of 2021 students from EU countries would no longer be eligible for the home fees at English universities, nor would they be able to get a loan to pay them from Student Finance England.
In statements to CyBC’s morning programme, Christodoulides said he discussed this issue with Raab on Sunday, and that both ministers agreed to continue looking into the issue, to see what arrangement could be made for Cypriot students.
He said they will continue to examine the issue, and whether some deal could be reached through the Commonwealth or a bilateral agreement.
“It is important we will continue [to discuss with the UK] in the hopes of having a positive result,” he said.
He said the issue is not part of EU negotiations for Brexit, and they will have to discuss the matter bilaterally.
Also, the current decision made by Donelan applies for English universities, he added, saying they will need to wait and see what the decisions will be for Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish universities.
Christodoulides added they are discussing three issues with the UK on this matter.
One is male students, who have had offers from British universities this year but will attend in 2021, due to compulsory military service.
The other is the exclusion of Cypriots students from the loan given by Student Finance England, which EU students are also eligible to receive, and the third is the general agreement that will be made for Cypriot students wishing to study in the UK after 2021.
“The discussion will continue on a technocratic level, and I hope with the help of other ministries, as in Britain another ministry handles this issue, we hope to have a positive result,” he said.
On Saturday, Christodoulides also spoke about this issue with the UK Minister for Europe Wendy Morton.
The decision has already sparked concerns among Cypriot students. A petition was started on change.org by students in Cyprus calling for a rethink on the potential fee increase.
It noted 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.
Currently international students in the UK pay fees that can range up to £18,000 depending on the course of study.