Student Fees: Home and Overseas Status
Consider This Case Scenario
John is a visa national and came to the UK 5 years ago as a dependent of a Skilled Worker migrant. Two years ago, when he reached his 18th birthday, he applied to study at a publicly funded university in London. He paid the overseas students’ tuition fees because, at that point, he was residing in the UK as a dependent of a Skilled Worker visa holder.
One month ago, John was granted Indefinite Leave to Remain. Now he wants to pay ‘home fees’ instead of overseas tuition fees. Can he do it?
The Short Answer
The short answer is ‘no’, he cannot do this. This article will explain why.
Why Check Eligibility for Home Fees Status?
It is important to check if you qualify to pay home tuition fees because you can potentially pay over £20,000 per academic year.
The UK Government capped the undergraduate home fees at £9,250. There is no limit to how much educational institutions can charge overseas students.
Who Determines Eligibility and Discretion
Higher Education Providers make decisions on the fee status of their students. They do so by relying on rules and regulations published by the Department for Education. However, they may exercise some discretion when reaching their decisions.
Student Finance England decide whether students can receive publicly funded support, such as tuition fee and maintenance loans. They also have to adhere to the Department for Education rules and regulations. Unlike Higher Education Providers, they have no discretion when making decisions.
For this reason, there are some students that hold home fee status that was discretionary allocated by their Higher Education Provider. However, they cannot get support from Student Finance England (SFE) because SFE cannot exercise discretion in determining the student’s fee status.
What are the Rules?
They are complex; therefore, many students are confused and don’t understand how their fee status is determined.
Generally, there are two aspects that you need to prove to qualify for home fee status:
- You need to be settled in the UK on ‘the first day of the first academic year of their course
- You also need to prove that you have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for three years before ‘the first day of the first academic year’.
Are You Settled?
According to section 33 (2a) of the Immigration Act 1971, being settled in the United Kingdom means being ordinarily resident without being subject under the immigration laws to any restriction on the period for which he may remain. In simple words, it means to either have Indefinite Leave to Remain or the Right of Above.
Are you ‘Ordinarily Resident’?
You will meet this test if you ‘normally and lawfully’ live in the UK. Usually, the answer is immediately clear. If not, the court will decide this by taking into consideration all your personal circumstances.
The Case of Shah
Lord Scarman explained this beautifully in the old 1983 case of Shah:
‘There are two, and no more than two, respects in which the mind of the propositus [the student applicant] is important in determining ordinary residence. The residence must be voluntarily adopted…..’
‘And there must be a degree of settled purpose. The purpose may be one, or there may be several. It may be specific or general. All the law requires is that there is a settled purpose. This is not to say that the propositus intends to stay where he is indefinitely; indeed, his purpose, while settled, may be for a limited period. Education, business or profession, employment, health, family, or merely love of the place spring to mind as common reasons for a choice of regular abode. And there may well be many others. All that is necessary is that the purpose of living where one does has a sufficient degree of continuity to be properly described as settled.’
The First Day of the First Academic Year
The 2017 Regulations explain what this means:
“academic year” means the period of twelve months beginning on 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 September of the calendar year in which the academic year of the course in question begins, according to whether that academic year begins on or after 1 January and before 1 April, on or after 1 April and before 1 July, on or after 1 July and before 1 August or on or after 1 August and before 31 December, respectively.
In other words, it is:
1 September for courses that start between 1 August and 31 December;
1 January for courses that start between 1 January and 31 March;
1 April for courses that start between 1 April and 30 June;
1 July for courses that start between 1 July and 31 July.
Yes, there are a few exceptions to the rules. There are eleven categories of students who will qualify for the home fee status even though they do not hold Indefinite Leave to Remain or are not ‘ordinary residents’ when applying:
- Refugees and family members;
- Persons granted humanitarian protection and family members;
- Persons granted stateless leave and family members;
- Persons with section 67 leave;
- Persons granted Calais leave to remain;
- Persons granted indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence or abuse;
- Persons granted indefinite leave to remain as a bereaved partner;
- Persons granted leave under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy or the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme and family members and British nationals evacuated or assisted in leaving Afghanistan;
- Persons granted leave under the Ukraine schemes and family members.
- Persons under 18 and have lived in the UK for at least 7 years;
- Persons 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years (or at least half of their life).
John’s Case Scenario
As you probably have already gathered from the information above, John will not qualify because he was not settled on ‘the first day of the first academic year’. He became settled after enrolling on a course. For this reason, sadly, he won’t qualify of home fee status.