Home or Overseas fees: the basics

Last modified: 22 March 2017

Publicly funded educational institutions normally charge two levels of fee: a lower 'home' fee and a higher 'overseas' fee.

Private sector institutions often have only one level of tuition fee, which all students must pay.

Whether you pay a 'home' or 'overseas' fee depends on whether you meet certain criteria. UKCISA does not create the criteria for fee status. The fee status criteria is provided in regulations, and guidance, published by the governments of the four countries of the UK - England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Different criteria will be applied depending on which country you are studying in, and whether you are studying a course at higher education (HE) or further education (FE) level.

Please read the information immediately below before looking at our explanation of the fees regulations and guidance for your relevant area of the UK: EnglandScotlandWales; or Northern Ireland.

In the context of fees assessment, certain terms mean what is defined for them in the regulations and guidance (and explained in the 'Definitions' section of each page), and not what you might interpret from an ‘everyday’ understanding of those terms.

Higher education (HE) or further education (FE)?

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

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

If you are not sure whether your course is HE or FE, ask your place of study. If your course is a HE course, the institution will usually decide your fee status on the basis of the relevant fees regulations. If your course is a FE course, the institution might consider charging you 'home' fees even if you do not come within the categories in the fees regulations; this will depend on your circumstances.

How much are ‘overseas’ fees?

'Overseas' fees can range from £3,500 to about £18,000 per year depending on the institution, the level of your course, and the type of course. The fee will probably increase each year by the level of inflation. You should contact the institutions you have applied to in order to find out what the fees are for your course and whether they can tell you what the fees will be for future years.

Your institution will probably ask you to give them some information about yourself, and your family, to help it assess your fee status. It will use the information you give to check if you fit into one of the categories for 'home' fees. You may be asked to provide documents (for example, a passport or official letters) to support the information you give.

Appealing a fee status decision

If you think a mistake has been made with your fee status decision, do not sign any document/contract agreeing to pay the 'overseas' rate of fee. Contact the institution immediately and ask it to explain the decision. After this, if you still think the decision is wrong, give the reasons why you think there has been a mistake. It is important to communicate in writing and to keep copies of all correspondence.

If you are still not satisfied with the decision, contact an adviser at your institution or Students' Union. Alternatively, you can telephone our Advice Line, where we will be happy to discuss your concerns. However, please note, we cannot get involved in individual disputes between you and your institution.

Becoming ‘home’ after the course has started

In some circumstances, it is possible to become a 'home' fee payer after the start of your course. Below, is a summary of changes that can trigger eligibility for ‘home’ fees. In all cases, you must check that you meet the full eligibility in the country where you are studying, including any rules about residence or about your family member’s situation.

You may become eligible for a 'home' fee on the first day of a subsequent academic year if:

  • you become, or a family member becomes, a refugee
  • you are, your spouse / civil partner are, or your parent is, refused asylum but granted Humanitarian Protection or another specified form of leave
  • you already met the relevant three-year residence requirement on the first day of the first academic year of your course and you become:
    • an EU national, or the family member of an EU national
    • an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or the family member of such a person
    • the child of a Swiss national
    • the child of a Turkish worker
  • where you are studying in England in any academic year from August 2016/17 onwards (regardless of when you started the course), you meet the requirements of the new 'Long residence' category

Gaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and/or acquiring three years' ordinary residence in the UK, part-way through a course will not change your fee status.

Am I insured for fees?

Unfortunately, students sometimes have to leave their courses early, or repeat part/all of their courses, due to accidents or illnesses during their studies. You may wish to look at options for buying insurance to provide a proportionate refund of your pre-paid course fees if you are worried about this sort of situation affecting you. Whether or not you choose to buy insurance, you should be clear on what your place of study says about course fee refund options.

‘No recourse to public funds’

If you have the sentence ‘No recourse to public funds’ included in your passport stamp, or printed on your Biometric Residence Permit, you will not be in breach of your immigration conditions if you have access to education in the UK.

In the Introduction to the Immigration Rules, ‘Public funds’ are defined as a specific list of welfare benefits. This list does not include education or any education funding. Therefore, being charged a 'home' tuition fee does not mean you are in receipt of public funds.

Brexit: Impact on fee status assessments

The funding bodies in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, have all given reassurances to EU nationals about continuing student finance eligibility in light of the UK's referendum on leaving the EU. See Brexit: Impact on student finance

The announcement on student finance that was made in England in October 2016 (see our link, above) also confirmed that EU nationals (and their family members) who start studying in 2017/18, and who are assessed as eligible for loans/grants, will be eligible for 'home' fee status for the duration of their study.

Scotland have confirmed that tuition fee support will be provided in the normal way which, we understand, will tie-in with 'home' fee status eligibility.

It was already our understanding that a number of universities are guaranteeing that fee status will not be reassessed for the duration of the course for those who started in 2016/17, even if the UK leaves the EU before their courses end, and students will continue to be charged the 'home'/EU rate rather than the higher non-EU rate.

You should contact your institution directly to confirm its policy but there is clearly an intention and commitment from institutions to do whatever is in their power to enable as many EU students as possible to continue to study in the UK, in the future.

UKCISA priorities and concerns over Brexit


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