Common myths and assumptions made by expats.
Myth: A British passport will get my son/daughter home fees at a UK university.
Not quite. British citizenship is just one factor that make you eligible. Alone it is not enough to meet the full eligibility criteria, there are other criteria you need to meet additionally to this. Actually, you might not have a British passport but you might still be eligible for home fees. There is provision for people with other UK immigration statuses, such as Irish passports holders, EU passports holders with EUSS pre-settled or settled status, ‘Leave to Remain’ or ‘Permanent Right of Abode’, that may be eligible (providing they meet the full criteria). Essentially, your passport alone doesn’t tell you much about whether you are eligible for home fees so more understanding of the full criteria is needed.
Myth: We’ll have to live in the UK for three years to get home fees.
Not necessarily. If you do live in the UK three years before UK university (and you meet the rest of the criteria), then you will qualify for home fees. However, it is not the case that if you don’t live in the UK, you won’t get home fees. Luckily for expat families living outside the UK, the legislation isn’t quite as explicit as this. What you need is to maintain an ‘Ordinary Residence’ in the UK for three years prior to the start of university. This is not the same as living in the UK – see our blog ‘What’s ‘Ordinary Residence’ (for fee status)’ to learn more about this term. Therefore, it is possible to live outside the UK and still achieve home status at a UK university.
Myth: We don’t have to think about fee status until the university application.
By then, it might be too late. Fee status assessments used to decide if you are eligible for home fees or not typically look at the three-year period before university. By the time the university application comes around, much of this three-year period has passed and therefore you are less able to build a strong case for meeting the eligibility criteria. You should be planning for fee status 3-4 years before the start of university so that you can adapt your living/working/travel plans to make sure you have a good case for home fees by the time you are fee assessed (during university admissions).
Assumption: People we know got home fees, so we will too.
Fee status is highly personalised and everyone’s fee status case is unique as it is dependent on many factors such as citizenship, immigration status, residence history, travel pattern, employment terms, employment history, the university shortlist, the course applying to…the list goes on! It’s unlikely that anyone you know will have a similar fee status case to you and therefore, their chances of getting home fees will be different to yours. It’s recommended to get personal advice on your fee status eligibility as what supported another person’s case for home fees may not support your case.
Assumption: Owning property in the UK will get my son/daughter home fees.
More important than owning a property is the status of that property and how it is used. If the property you own is rented out to a tenant then it’s unlikely that it will support your fee status case. Rather than talk about properties, we talk about the ‘home’. There is an expectation that you have a home in the UK to claim that you are maintaining an Ordinary Residence. This may not necessarily be a property that you own, for example, it could be a rented property, but it should be somewhere that you use as a home when you are in the UK. Everyone’s circumstances are different so what might be a home in the UK for one family might look different to another’s.
Assumption: Moving my child to a boarding school will get him/her home fees.
This may not be the case, even if your child has been going to boarding school and living in the UK for more than three years. The fee status rules include the ‘main purpose test’ which excludes any residence in the UK where the main purpose was to receive full-time education. If your child is at boarding school but you, the parents, live outside of the UK then universities are likely to apply the main purpose test and take the view that, if not at boarding school, your child will be resident with you. This means that they will not be able to give Home fee status on that basis and you will have a more complicated case to argue your eligibility.
UK Study Options are experts in UK University Fee Status who provide personalised advice to expat families helping them to achieve Home fee status. We visit schools all over the world on a regular basis to present seminars for parents – check our events page to see if we are in your region soon. Complete our online form to receive a free appraisal of your case and see if you need expert guidance for your application.