Education after Brexit (services, qualifications and funding)

Last updated: 8 January 2021

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. This process is often known as 'Brexit'.

The UK Government and the EU have now agreed a deal on their future relationship. From 1 January 2021 this new relationship with the EU will begin.

There will be effects on some areas of life in Scotland. This may include changes to education.

This page will be updated to give the latest facts. Keep checking back for new information.

Early learning and childcare

Brexit is not likely to significantly affect early learning and childcare in Scotland.

A number of early learning and childcare workers in Scotland are EU citizens, and their right to continue working in their current role will not be affected by Brexit.

People from all ages, skill levels and backgrounds will still be encouraged to apply to work in early learning and childcare.

EU citizens will still need to apply for settled status before 30 June 2021. The EU citizens living in Scotland page gives the latest information on this, including details on how to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme and the Scottish Government's new advisory service for EU citizens.


Brexit should not affect the way schools operate.

Schools are run by local councils – if you have any doubts about how Brexit will affect your child's school, you should contact your local council to find out more about Brexit planning in your area.

Exams and qualifications

SQA qualifications are currently accepted across the EU and other countries, and this will not change after Brexit.

Find out about the national qualifications in 2020 to 2021.


All teachers in Scotland must be registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) before they're allowed to teach.

The GTCS is still welcoming applications from EU teachers.

EU citizens will still need to apply for settled status before 30 June 2021. The EU citizens living in Scotland page gives the latest information on this, including details on how to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, and on the Scottish Government's new advisory service for EU citizens.

Colleges and universities

The impact of Brexit to college and university education is significant, particularly in relation to EU funded programmes.

The agreement keeps the UK's participation in Horizon Europe, but the UK Government has chosen to withdraw from the next Erasmus Plus and the European Territorial Cooperation programmes. These programmes provided significant funding to higher education institutions in Scotland.

You can find more information about what the UK government agreed for:

Find out more about the Scottish Government's position on both the:

EU students studying in Scotland (or planning to)

Eligible students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland who start studying in the 2020-21 academic year will get free tuition for the duration of their course.

Information for these students wishing to study in Scotland from 2021-22 is available from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) website.

Scottish or EU students on an Erasmus Plus exchange trip (or planning to go on one)

Scottish and EU students will continue to be able to take part in the Erasmus Plus programme 2020, if they already started their placement in the academic year 2020-21. Projects will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, if they had successful bids during the current 2014-2020 Erasmus Plus and European Solidarity Corps programmes.

The UK Government withdrew from the Erasmus Plus programme in the deal agreed starting 1 January 2021. Without association, students will no longer be able to participate in Erasmus Plus from the academic year 2021-22.

For more information see the UK Government's guidance on studying in the European Union and information from the European Commission.

Scottish students studying in Europe

If you are a UK student studying in an EU country there are a number of things you should consider. These include:

  • your residency rights for the country you're living in
  • access to healthcare
  • your tuition fee status at your EU institution

You should speak to your higher education provider about completing your studies in your current host country. They will be able to give you information and advice.

More information and guidance is available for students who want to study or continue their studies in Scotland after Brexit. If you need to return to Scotland after studying in the EU, you may still have access to student support and student fee support. Visit the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) website for the latest information.

EU citizens working in a Scottish university

If you're an EU citizen living in the UK and want to stay after 31 January 2020, you will have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021.

More information on the EU Settlement Scheme can be found on the EU and EEA citizens in Scotland page.

EU citizens arriving in the UK after 31 December 2020 will need a visa to work in the UK.

UK citizens working at an EU institution

UK citizens may need to apply for a residence status to confirm that they were already resident in the EU country before the 31 December 2020. If you're a UK citizen, you will have until at least 30 June 2021 to do this.

For the latest information check the UK nationals in the EU page on GOV.UK.

More information

More details on education after Brexit will be added to this page as new information is available.

Meanwhile, there are a number of other sites you can check for updates: