Further education, higher education and student support

Much of the following information is taken from the excellent UK Council for International Student Affairs website – under ‘info and advice’, choose ‘fees and money’.

Publicly funded educational institutions normally charge two levels of fee: a lower ‘home’ fee and a higher ‘overseas’ fee. Whether you pay a ‘home’ or ‘overseas’ fee depends on whether you meet certain criteria.

Contents

01   What is the difference between ‘home’ and ‘overseas’ fees

Visit UKCISA – Home or Overseas fees: the basics. Different rules apply depending on whether you are studying a course at higher education (HE) or further education (FE) and which country you are studying in. If you have been assessed as an overseas student, please get in touch with us.

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02   Important definitions in the guidance

Settled status: You have indefinite leave, British Citizenship, settled status under the EUSS or are a non-British Citizen serving in the British Armed Forces. You (or your partner/parent) must have had settled status before the first day of the first academic year of the course.

Three years residence: You must have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for the full three-year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course. For the definition of the first day of the academic year see UKCISA – Definitions: for fee status assessment

Ordinary Residence: You are ordinarily resident if you have habitually, normally and lawfully resided in the UK. This definition is what prevents many spouses and children from accessing student finance. Even if you have since been granted settled status, any period of overstaying in the three years prior to the start of the course will prevent you from accessing student support.

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03   Further education courses: eligibility for ‘home’ fees status

Further education courses include GCSEs, AS and A levels (and their equivalents), NVQs, GNVQs, BTECs and Access courses.

All information can be found at UKCISA – England: FE fee status. There are different provisions if you are doing an apprenticeship course, see UKCISA – Further Education: Apprenticeship courses

If you are aged 16-18, you will qualify for ‘home’ fees if you are the child of someone who has a valid visa to remain in the UK or who is British. There is no residency requirement.

If you are aged over 19 and over, you will qualify for ‘home’ fees if you:

  • Have ILR or you are the spouse/child or civil partner of someone with ILR. There is no residence requirement for this category. It is not clear whether serving personnel are considered to have ILR for the purposes of this category.
  • You have settled or pre-settled status under the EUSS and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the three years prior to the first day of the course
  • You have a valid visa and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the first day of the course

If you reside in a devolved authority area there may be a different set of funding rules. See UKCISA – Further Education for 19 and older for more information.

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04   Higher-education-courses-eligibility-for-home-fees-status

Higher education courses include HNC and HND courses, undergraduate degrees (for example, BA, BSc, BEd) and postgraduate degrees (for example, MA, MSc or PhD).

You should qualify for ‘home’ fees at university if you fall into one of the following categories. There are more categories in this guide: UKCISA: Who pays ‘home’ fees for higher education in England and on the UKCISA website, but these are the main ones for spouses and children of soldiers:

  • People who have ‘settled’ status and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the full three-year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course (see page 22 in the guide)
  • Family members of a ‘settled person’ who was settled before the first day of the first academic year of the course. The applicant has to have been ordinarily resident for the full three-year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course (see page 34 in the guide). As serving personnel are considered to be settled it is therefore possible for a spouse without ILR to apply for student support if they have been in the UK for 3 years.
  • People who have EUSS settled status and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the full three-year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course (see page 30 in the guide).
  • Long residence in the UK (without settled status*) – you can qualify for home fees if on the first day of the first academic year of the course you are
    • Under 18 and have lived in the UK for the past 7 years
    • Over 18 and have lived in the UK for either half your life or a period of twenty years

*You don’t need to be settled to meet this requirement, however you still need to meet the requirement to have been ordinarily resident for a period of 3 years prior to the start of the course. So if you have been an overstayer for during that 3 year period you will not qualify.

  • Spouses with ILR under domestic violence rules – under this category you are not required to have been ordinarily resident for 3 years. You just have to have been ordinarily resident since you were granted this leave. Furthermore, if you are granted leave on the DV route after the start of the course you will be entitled to ‘home fees’ from the start of the next year of the course.
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05   Government student support

Student support is the name given to financial support provided by the Government to eligible students in the UK*. It is composed of a loan for tuition fees and a loan for living costs. It is not considered a ‘public fund,’ therefore a student with ‘no recourse to public funds’ would not be in breach of that condition by applying for and receiving student support. See UKCISA – UK student finance, scholarships, and other funding

If you have been assessed as being eligible to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate you should be entitled to student support. You should apply within nine months of the start of the academic year. See GOV.UK: Student finance

If you are refused student support you should contact the AFF F&C team.

*The type and level of financial support available varies between the 4 countries within the UK. If you are posted in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland you should contact the AFF F&C team for further information.

Student support for serving soldiers

Following more than two years of campaigning by AFF, Student Finance England has now changed their guidance to reflect the fact that soldiers are considered to be settled during Service. Soldiers in England are therefore able to access student support. Work is apparently ongoing to remove the disadvantage for soldiers serving in the Devolved Administrations.

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06   Overseas assignments

If you have been accompanying your parent/spouse on an overseas assignment, then para 1(5) of Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the  Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 allow for your time to be considered as residence in the UK. See page 21 of Higher Education Student Finance in England Assessing Eligibility – AY 23/24. If you have been refused student finance due to an overseas assignment please get in touch with the AFF F&C team.

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