Myths and assumptions made by expats
So, the UCAS application is in at last and now you are receiving emails from individual universities asking you to fill in a Fee Status Questionnaire (FSQ). In this blog we tackle some of the myths that expatriate families may have about fee status.
Universities are part funded by the UK Government. They have to undertake due diligence in identifying students who have a right to UK tuition fees (and subsequently student loans). Particular scrutiny is given to students applying for costly degrees such as lab-based courses, veterinary, dentistry and medicine. Fee status forms are sent to students who are based overseas and some who are based in the UK to establish which category of student they are and whether they are entitled to UK fees. The FSQ forms are for prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Myth: a UK passport is enough to entitle my son/daughter to Home fees.
No, British citizenship is just one of the factors for consideration. It is not enough to have a British passport, you also need to show that you maintain your ‘ordinary residence’ in your home country by visiting as a family often enough and for long enough each year. You don’t have to be a British citizen to be eligible for Home fees – asylum seekers, ‘Leave to Remainers’ and refugees may also be entitled to UK fees.
Myth: we don’t need to worry about fee status until my son/daughter applies to university.
The later you think about fee status, the less chance you have of building a strong case for Home fees. 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 rock solid case when you do go to apply.
Myth: being overseas on a visa means that I have to return to my home country and therefore should be entitled to UK fee status.
Thousands of expat families are based overseas on a visa which is re-issued every two years or so. Being on a visa does not mean that your son/daughter is automatically entitled to UK fees when starting university in the UK.
Myth: owning property in the UK should ensure Home fee status.
Not necessarily. It may help to own a property but alternative homes can be used depending on a family’s circumstances. The important thing to to have a ‘home base’ of some sorts.
Myth: visiting the UK each year for three years before university will ensure UK fee status.
Returning to the UK is an important part of maintaining your eligibility by establishing a pattern of ‘ordinary residence’ for at least three years prior to the start of university. However, some universities ask for evidence of visits back to the UK for a longer period – for the duration you have lived abroad or even as far back as the student’s birth! It depends on the university’s fee status policy and how strict they are.
Rarely does one element of your case, such as the ‘home base’ or visits to the UK, alone decide your case, rather it is better to think of fee status as an assessment of multiple factors that determine how you case looks overall. Establishing UK fee status is not a simple tick box exercise. It is necessary to demonstrate commitment to your home country, showing that you maintain strong family links with a clear intention to return at some point in the future.
UK Study Options are experts in UK University Fee Status who provide personalised advice to expat families helping them to achieve Home fee status. Complete our online form to see if you need a Fee Status Appraisal.