My Lords, what a miserably thin Statement on such a major subject. It is essential that there is no further delay in the UK Government confirming the fee status for EU students starting courses at English universities in autumn 2020. The recruitment cycle for that academic year is already well under way. Although the Minister said that sufficient notice will be given to students, universities will need at least 18 months’ notice of any change to manage changes in numbers.
With 135,000 EU students in a marketised university sector, any drop-off in numbers caused by inflated tuition fees will have a significant material and financial impact on university finances and their ability to plan for and sustain courses. Does the Minister share my concern that continuing uncertainty will restrict student choice and the ability of English universities to recruit the best students from the EU, as well as have a knock-on impact on the gem that is research in our universities—research ably supported by income brought in from abroad and improved by the quality of EU graduates coming to our universities?
This delay is hurting our universities now and will continue to do so. We cannot permit this to go on unchallenged. Any delay in the certainty of what will happen in 2020 will damage our reputation internationally.