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What would a no-deal Brexit mean for Brits studying in Sweden (or hoping to)?

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What would a no-deal Brexit mean for Brits studying in Sweden (or hoping to)?
Students pictured in the historic Swedish university town of Uppsala. Photo: Magnus Liam Karlsson/imagebank.sweden.se
14:41 CET+01:00
The Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR) has outlined some of the unanswered questions about the future of British students in Sweden in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The council was writing in response to the Swedish government's proposed measures, which include a one-year 'grace period' during which Brits in Sweden can remain in Sweden even without the necessary permits. 

The UHR said it approved of the proposals, but also called on politicians to clarify the situation for British students in Sweden once their home country leaves the EU.

"In the memorandum, nothing is mentioned about the British citizens who today live and study at Swedish sites of learning," the report noted. It said that in writing the report, the UHR had assumed that the same rules would apply to students as to other people in Sweden, meaning they would have a one-year period in which to apply for the relevant permits to be able to stay in Sweden after that.

READ ALSO: Swedish business leaders warn Brits risk work permit rejections after no-deal Brexit

The Migration Agency, in its own response to the government proposals, estimated that around 10-15 percent of the more than 20,000 British citizens in Sweden were students, but no official figures are available at the national level. That's because Brits currently enjoy freedom of movement within the EU and can move to Sweden without applying for any specific permit: since 2014, it has been impossible for EEA citizens to register their right of residence with the Migration Agency.

The agency also warned that the one-year grace period might not be long enough to process all of the permit applications from affected Brits.

The other big issue facing British students in Sweden is the subject of fees, both for university applications and tuition.

Currently, British students benefit from free tuition as EU citizens. Students from outside the EEA and Switzerland, however, must pay an application fee of 900 kronor and yearly tuition fees usually amounting to at least 80,000 kronor and sometimes more than double that amount.

Studying in Sweden? Find more articles for students here

The report said that "students with British citizenship will belong to this group after the UK leaves the EU."

"Those who have applied for international courses and programmes starting in autumn 2019 were exempt from the application fee because of their citizenship in the UK at the time," the council wrote.

"In the case that no agreement is made, those who are accepted for these training programmes will be obligated to pay tuition fees at the start of the term. One way to avoid this is to temporarily or permanently change Regulation (2010:543) on application and tuition fees at universities and institutes of higher education."

Even students who have already begun their course of study in Sweden may be affected by Brexit. The UHR warned that students currently enrolled in Swedish higher education would be required to pay tuition fees after the UK leaves the EU, unless the Swedish government introduces a specific rule or other measures to avoid this.

Some Swedish universities have already noticed a decrease in British applicants since the 2016 vote to leave the EU and the subsequent uncertainty over tuition fees, including Lund University in the south-west of the country.

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