You may never have come across the term ‘fee status’. But your university will give you one and it will make a difference to the tuition fees you pay.
What is fee status?
Your fee status determines the level of tuition fees you will pay when you go to a university in the UK that is publicly funded. There are two levels of fee status – a lower ‘home’ fee which is set at a capped amount by the government and ‘overseas’ which is often much higher and is not capped. Each university will follow regulations and guidance from the relevant UK government to determine each applicant’s fee status and charge tuition fees accordingly.
How do I know my fee status?
This is where it can get complicated. Each of the four UK nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have a different set of fee status rules. Therefore, you will need to look at the rules that are relevant to the university you are applying for. If you apply to universities that are in different countries then, under each set of rules, it could be possible that you have a different fee status in say England as opposed to Scotland. You can find the rules for each country on the UKCISA website but the rules are complex and open to interpretation.
This means that for expatriate families, who are often to be considered to be on the borderline between home and overseas, each university may view their case differently. It is common that applicants could be classed as a home fee payer at one university but an overseas fee payer at another university, even in the same UK nation. This reflects the very subjective nature of the assessment that universities are required to undertake. It is however each university that has been given the autonomy to make the final decision on the fee status for those applicants on their courses.
What are the requirements for home fees?
It is important to understand that there are many different categories of home fee status and each have different eligibility criteria. A key step is to check the specific requirements that will be applicable to you and your application rather than rely on the experience of friends or family members. For British and Irish expatriate applicants you will generally have to demonstrate how you have an ‘ordinary residence’ in the UK or Ireland for the three-year period prior to starting university. Universities will ask for many details of your life including your home address in the UK, nationality and dual nationalities, travel pattern and parents employment. They will be looking to see that you have a regular and habitual life at your UK home or else otherwise that you have are only temporarily absent from the UK to take up employment abroad.
It is also possible to achieve home fees if you have a ‘relevant family member’ who is a British citizen even if you are not one yourself. If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain or another ‘settled’ status in the UK this could mean you get home fees if you can also meet the ordinary residence requirement. Additionally, temporary rules after Brexit mean that those who can show an ordinary residence in the EEA or Switzerland might also be eligible for home fees status.
Where can I get help with my fee status case?
UKCISA, the UK Council for International Student Affairs, provide guidance on how to understand the rules. This is a good place to start your research. We are experts in university fee status and provide personalised advice to expat families helping them to achieve home fee status. This service gives you comprehensive advice and support from the moment you engage our services until your child starts university. This includes support with any university fee status queries during the application cycle.
For a free review of your fee status case, complete our online form and we’ll get back to you with some initial feedback on your chances of obtaining home fees.