Brexit seems a long time ago but its effects will still impact the way universities assess tuition fee status for a number of years to come and this will affect British and Irish expats living in Europe.
The rules for British and Irish expats living in Europe are complicated. The current rules in place are also only temporary and are different in each UK nation so their impact on expats is about to get even more confusing. As an expat, whether you are eligible for Home fees at a UK university is highly dependent on your personal circumstances such as where you have been living, for how long and for what purpose, and where in the UK to are applying to university, among many others things. It is crucial that you get personal advice on your circumstances if your family is living in Europe or you are advising such students applying to UK universities.
Brexit Withdrawal Agreement
Under the fee status rules, British and Irish expats living in Europe currently have protection under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. In England this is in the form of a category of Home fee status called ‘Brexit temporary offer for courses starting before 2028: UK nationals and family with residence in Europe or overseas territories’. Expats are eligible if they were living (‘ordinary resident’) in the EEA or Switzerland on 31st December 2020 and have maintained their ordinary residence there or in the UK since then. As the name suggests, this is a temporary category that will end after 2027, at which point expats will no longer have this protection and will need advice on whether they are still able to be Home fee-payers.
Crucially, if you have moved to the EEA or Switzerland from 2021 onwards, you are not eligible for Home fee status under this category. This is because you’ve moved to Europe post-Brexit and are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.
The rules are even more complex when applying to universities in Scotland as it is necessary to show your ordinary residence in Scotland for the three years immediately prior to living in Europe (as well as the requirements above) to get Scottish Home fees (£1,820 per year). Confusingly, Scotland have another rate of fees called RUK (Rest of UK) which is at a level equivalent to Home fees in England (£9,250). It is separately possible for British citizens resident in Europe to qualify for RUK fees in Scotland without living in the UK before moving to Europe.
What to expect
If you do live in Europe or anywhere else outside of the UK you can expect universities to question your eligibility for Home fees when you apply. They will ask for information and supporting evidence by sending you a fee status questionnaire (FSQ) to understand your circumstances and see if your meet the requirements for Home fees. You must gather and maintain relevant evidence of where you live and the date of your move, as you may be required to provide this information. You may need to show different evidence depending on which UK nation your university choices are located.
Make sure you understand the rules and check your eligibility for Home fees as early as you can before the university application. If you will be starting your university course after 2027 or you moved to Europe in 2021 or later your case will be much more complex and it may be harder for you to get Home status. UKSO are the leading experts in UK University Fee Status. We have been advising schools, families and students around the world on this complex topic for 11 years and have helped over 1,000 expat families with their fee status queries. Get in touch for a personalised Fee Status Appraisal.