UK Universities: Home Fees & Student Finance
Britain’s exit from the European Union threatened the end of access to home fees for British nationals/family members of British nationals resident in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland (CH) who wished to study in the UK. This was not covered in the Withdrawal Agreement for UK students from the EEA and CH so British in Europe campaigned for over three years for a grace period to delay the immediate impact of Brexit. This grace period covers applications for courses that start before 31.12.2027.
It covers access to home fees and to student loans for tuition fees and for living and other expenses in your country of study but there are differences in entitlement between the four nations (England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland), as well as for undergraduate and postgraduate study.
Please note that there may be different rules for UK nationals/their family members resident in the EU Overseas Territories and Gibraltar on 31.12.2020. This blog covers the situation for UK nationals/their family members resident in the EEA and CH on 31.12.2020.
What are home fees?
The term home fees refers to the amount of tuition charged by universities to British nationals and other residents of the UK, as opposed to international fees which are charged to students not resident in the UK.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the home fee rate is currently £9250 for an undergraduate degree.
In Scotland, there are two types of home fees: Scottish fees for residents of Scotland (£1820) and Rest of UK fees for applicants who are resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These are the same as fees in England (£9250).
The tuition amount for postgraduate courses varies from university to university depending on the subject.
Who is entitled to them?
UK nationals and their family members living in the EEA or Switzerland on 31 December 2020 applying to study in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales are entitled to home fees for courses starting on or after 1 August 2021 and before 1 January 2028 if they meet the following conditions:
- they were living in the EEA or Switzerland on 31 December 2020 (or have moved back to the UK immediately after living in the EEA or Switzerland)
- they have lived in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK or Gibraltar for at least the last three years
- they have lived continuously in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK or Gibraltar between 31 December 2020 and the start of the course.
In Scotland applicants from the EEA and CH who meet the conditions above will pay the rest of UK home fee rate unless the applicant or their family member has previously been resident in Scotland. If that is the case they will pay the Scottish fee rate.
Importantly, if they meet the residence conditions above, the applicant student does not need to be British as long as they have a family member (parent, spouse, civil partner) who is.
CASE STUDY I
Anna was adopted as a child from Russia by her adoptive Swedish mother and British father. She has grown up in Luxembourg and holds Luxembourgish and Swedish citizenship. She is applying to study in Glasgow for an undergraduate degree starting in September 2022. She and her family members meet the conditions and she is entitled to the home fee rate for students from England of £9250. She will, however, have to apply for an international study visa unless she has acquired British citizenship before she moves to Scotland to start her course.
CASE STUDY II
Emma has a British dad and Spanish mum. She has lived in Switzerland since she was five but was born and raised in Scotland until then. She holds UK and Spanish citizenship. She is also applying to study in Glasgow for an undergraduate degree in September 2022. Emma is entitled to Scottish fees because she was born in Scotland and lived there until she moved to Switzerland. She will pay £1820 per annum.
This is a useful fee status calculator for Scotland.
Student finance is made up of repayable loans and sometimes non-repayable grants to help students pay for their tuition and living expenses. In certain circumstances it can also include a travel element or help with childcare.
Who is entitled to student finance?
Student finance is where it starts to get tricky depending on whether the student is a UK national or the family member of a UK national, which of the four nations you want to study in, whether you have previously lived in the UK and for which purpose (education or another reason), whether you are studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree and whether you need a loan for both the fees and other living expenses.
If you are a UK national/family member covered by the grace period and studying in England you will generally be eligible for student finance for tuition and living expenses
See here for who can get what in Wales (generally, a loan for tuition fees plus living expenses).
In Scotland if you have never lived in the UK before studying in Scotland you are not eligible for student finance unless you can show you meet the residence conditions and have not moved to Scotland only to study. Even if you do meet the residence conditions for the tuition loan you will not be eligible for the living costs loan. See: Scottish student finance rules of UK from the EEA/CH
If you are studying in Northern Ireland see here whether you qualify as a NI student for finance (you don’t have to be from Northern Ireland to meet the criteria) and which types of student finance you are eligible for.
What to do if a university makes you an international fees offer instead of a home fees offer
BiE noticed that in the first year of the grace period many UK nationals in the EEA and CH were made international fee rather than home fee offers. We hope that as the grace period progresses this will happen less and less. However, if your university of choice makes an international fee offer and you believe you are entitled to home fees appeal and raise it with the finance office or student admissions. In many cases they may just need a couple of additional documents to prove that you meet the conditions. Advising your prospective department that you are encountering problems may also help to resolve the problem.
If you continue to be refused home fees consider taking it up with the MP for the university. Often they will tell you they cannot get involved until you have been enrolled but it is useful for them to know that there may be a systemic problem with a key employer and economic operator in their constituency. You can google the university postcode and search here to find the local MP.
What can I do if I cannot get student finance in the UK for my course?
First of all, appeal. There is information here on how to appeal in England or follow the links for the other nations above.
If that doesn’t work, check out these useful tips on what to do next.
Your individual university may also have hardship funding that you may be eligible for. Check out the student union or search on the university webpage. Here is an example from Kingston University finance advice.
Check also to see if you are eligible to receive a loan and/or a grant to study in the UK from your host EU member state. If you are, this may well be more generous and cheaper in the long term than applying for student finance in the UK.
It’s also worth contacting the local education department in your home town or city in which you want to study. There may well be small bursaries available from small foundations to support everyone from students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, to female students who want to study a STEM subject or LGBTQ students undertaking postgraduate studies in archeology or astrophysics. Many of these are not advertised but are there if you search for them. Remember to check out deadlines well ahead of your start date.
Depending on the subject you are studying you may be able to attract support from a business operating in that sector or a foundation set up by a previous student on the course. You can find info here study scholarships in the UK or check out your university department for more info.
To see what’s on offer for the arts check out UCAS bursary options to study the arts.
Finally, if the UK doesn’t work out, there are plenty of other undergraduate courses available in the EU in English. You can study medicine in English in Italy or the liberal arts, humanities and sciences in the Netherlands and Germany.
If you don’t have EU citizenship but have lived in your EU host state for five years or more, think about applying for EU long term residence status as this will give you more mobility and better rights to study in another EU country than your Withdrawal Agreement status. You can hold this status alongside your WA status but make sure you apply for it well in advance of starting your course in another EU member state.
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