The UK government has announced plans to make it harder for EU students to gain access to financial support for living in England.
Under the current rules students from any of the 27 other EU member states can apply for a maintenance loan after living in England for 3 or more years.
However, as of Autumn 2016 this will be extended to five years in order to ensure greater sustainability in the funding for higher education as well as bringing the UK’s policy in line with other EU states, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
Jo Johnson, the Universities Minster, said that the change would bring the UK into line with rules in Germany, France and other EU countries.
He went on to say in his written statement to Parliament that “the higher education student support budget is under pressure from increasing numbers of applicants from the EU”.
The move comes as a series of changes to student finance are already planned for next year, including the scrapping of maintenance grants and nursing grants.
An increase in the maintenance loan for those students from low-income backgrounds is also planned to come into effect at the start of the next academic year. The new maintenance loan will be means-tested and will go up to £8,200 for full-time students.
The year 2014/15 saw around 35,000 EU students applying for academic support in the UK, according to the National Union of Students (NUS).
Current EU students will not be affected by the change and the government have denied that the changes are in any way linked to the upcoming EU referendum.