The Ucas university admissions system is changing its rules to allow UK students to apply to European universities.
Universities from across the European Union will be able to apply to join the admissions service used by UK students.
It raises the prospect of universities from the Netherlands, Germany and Finland offering places alongside UK universities.
They could also offer places in the clearing system after A-level results.
European universities, particularly from the Netherlands, have increasingly been recruiting in the UK - especially after tuition fees increased in England to up to £9,000 per year.
At present UK students wanting to study at a European university have to apply directly to individual institutions.
But the decision by Ucas would make it possible for UK students to apply to European institutions as part of the same application process used for UK universities.
A Ucas spokesman said that any universities would have to "demonstrate that they meet equivalent standards to those in the UK".
And he said that Ucas would not disclose any universities applying to join.
But Maastricht University in the Netherlands has previously announced that it would like to become part of the Ucas system.
There have already been some universities in Europe accessible through the Ucas system, such as the Amsterdam Fashion Academy, but this is for a degree accredited by a UK university, Buckinghamshire New University.
Under the changes announced by Ucas, a much wider range of European universities could become part of the mainstream application process.
"The inclusion of a wider range of higher education providers in the Ucas system offers students more choice about where and what to study," said the spokesman for the admissions service.
Courses in English
Applications for UK university courses starting in the autumn are running at record levels.
But European universities would be able to offer courses taught in English with far lower tuition fees than in England.
Tuition fees were scrapped in German universities this year.
Many courses in Scandinavia are taught in English, and Paris-Saclay, a new mega-university to be opened in France this year, is intending to offer courses taught in English.
American universities have also been recruiting students in the UK, with more than 10,000 students from the UK now studying in the US.
Keele University sought to encourage more applications from the US by joining the common application system used in the United States.