Each year I visit international schools where many students are UK/EU expats. I try to give accurate and updated advice to students and their families regarding fee status for university study.
Although there are no guarantees it does help you if know a little about the rules and regulations, whether you meet the criteria for Home/EU fees and, if you are eligible, how to compile a clear and strong case. You need to prepare in advance as once the UCAS forms go in it can become a stressful waiting game particularly if the institutions are waiting for information and evidence from you before making an offer.
It’s not just about having a UK/EU passport – you need to show the universities and the student loans companies that you actively live in the UK during the run up period of three years before the course starts.
The rules and regulation governing Fee Status are published by each of the four UK countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The outcome of your Fee Status may depend upon where your home is based and which country you are planning to study in.
Technically a student must be ‘settled’ in the UK on the first day of the first term of the course and ‘ordinary resident’ in the UK and have been ‘ordinary resident’ in the UK for three years prior to the first day of the first term of the course to be eligible for Home/EU fees at a UK university. Ordinary residence must not be for the purpose of receiving full time education so, even if the student has been in the UK at boarding school whilst the family remain overseas, this will not count as being ‘ordinary resident’.
Many expats ‘temporarily’ live overseas. Quite often temporary contracts of several years are extended many times so a student may actually have never lived in the UK at all!
Here are my top tips for the new 2016/17 academic year.
Decide where your home is!
It may seem obvious but I come across many UK students who have lived the expat life since birth. They may have family scattered over the UK to visit each year and perhaps a holiday home in Europe. Decide where your natural and habitual mode of living is with your family and stay there regularly, as a ‘family’ (at least one parent and siblings) for a number of weeks or months each year.
Return regularly to your home for substantial amounts of time as a family.
You do not need to own a home (it may help if you do) but you will need to have a regular, mode of family life in one place. You will be asked to provide documentation to support your case. In the past families have provided: family deeds, rental agreements, Council Tax Statements, Utility Bills – anything to show a strong connection to one place in particular. The documents will have your family name on – utility bills may even show the difference in electricity and gas usage in the months you claim to be in the UK compared to the months you are not. Some institutions have accepted shopping bills or bank statements showing transactions from one particular place.
Keep e-tickets and travel documentation for each family member when travelling to and from the UK.
It really helps to show for instance that each summer the applicant and any siblings and at least one parent travel into the UK and out again at the end of the summer. If you travel regularly on one particular airline you will have a record of your flights along with your air-miles. If you don’t think you have any records it is worth going back into your email accounts to find them!
Gather documentation to support your temporary absence from the UK.
There is no definition in the case law or legislation to define what is meant by ‘temporary’ absence from the UK. This is where is gets tricky as the rules and regulations governing Fee Status are open to interpretation by the institution as to what they think is a temporary absence. Some universities have used a cut-off point in the past of six years – so anyone who has lived outside the UK over six years will be treated as an overseas fee payer whether they are a UK national or not!
Some universities will ask to see the parent’s work contract. It helps if this contract is awarded before the family travel outside the UK to live and it states that on completion of the contract the family will be repatriated to the UK. This shows a clear intention of returning to the UK and may well support your case.
Fee Status outcome depends upon the student giving correct, clear information about their circumstances, providing comprehensive supporting documentation and showing a regular, habitual mode of living in the UK as a family for substantial amounts of time each year.
The fact that the rules and regulations are interpreted slightly differently by each country and each institution means that students may be given different fee status decisions by their five universities.
Geraldine Raison’s team at UKStudyOptions offer a Fee Status appraisal as well as ongoing help and support for students if required. The UKStudyOptions team are members of UKCISA and receive regular training along with UK university admissions staff. We can help get you prepared and ready by offering a personal appraisal, explaining the rules and regulations, looking at your strengths and weaknesses and giving you a check list of documentation to gather before you apply!
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for details