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EU students rush to UK universities to beat Brexit uncertainty

[LONDON] The number of European Union students accepted by UK universities rose in the past year, driven by fears of a post-Brexit surge in tuition fees for future entrants.

The government said in July it would cap fees for students joining UK institutions in the academic year beginning fall 2019 at the same level as British students - currently £9,250 (S$16,332 ) a year - for the duration of their courses. Students from outside the EU can be charged at a level set by individual universities, in some cases £15,000 or more.

The number of accepted EU students rose 2 per cent to 29,660 as of August 31, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The National Union of Students attributed the rise to "worry" about future fee increases in a "post-Brexit landscape."

"No long-term decision for EU students in the UK has been announced," said NUS International Students' Officer Yinbo Yu. "Ultimately, their fees could end up much higher and the application process more rigid and strenuous - inevitably deterring many from studying here."

Even so, despite the higher fees, the number of students from outside the EU successfully applying to courses at British universities also rose, according to UCAS - to a record 37,120.