HE fees regulations in England: important change to Humanitarian Protection category

22 March 2019
The set of regulations that governs the charging of ‘overseas’ fees for undergraduate courses in England is going to change on 1 August 2019. The Student Fees (Qualifying Courses and Persons) (England) Regulations 2007 will be revoked on 31 July 2019, and replaced by The Higher Education (Fee Limit Condition) (England) Regulations 2017 (2017 No.1189).

There is to be no change to the categories of students who are protected from ‘overseas’ fees, except one very important change to the category for persons granted humanitarian protection and their family members. In that category, a completely new requirement is to be introduced, a requirement that students must have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands (the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) for the three-year period before the start of the course.

This is a drastic change by the Government. We have asked the Department for Education to reconsider their decision, on the basis that it will have such a significant impact on this group, but they say the change is quite deliberate and will not be reversed.

If a student started their course before 1 August 2019

Technically, the change to the category applies to fees for all academic years that start on or after 1 August 2019 (even where courses are part-way through). Theoretically this could mean that someone who qualified for the category (and was charged ‘home’ fees) when they started their course in (for example) September 2018, might not qualify for the category for Year 2 of their course (starting in September 2019), because when the new three years’ residence requirement is applied to them, it turns out they did not have three years’ residence before the start of the course. However, the Department for Education has indicated that it does not want institutions to change anyone’s fee status from ‘home’ to ‘overseas’, part-way through a course, because of the change. They want institutions to exercise their discretion not to do so. The Department for Education wrote in an email to UKCISA on 21 March 2019 that: “In theory providers could raise the fees…However, there is absolutely no obligation on them to do so and they would be quite at liberty to retain the same fee”. They say they believe it is “very unlikely” any institution would change such a student’s fee status from ‘home’ to ‘overseas’ part-way through a course, in response to this change.

If a student is due to start a course on or after 1 August 2019

If you have provisionally assessed a student under this category for a course that starts on or after 1 August 2019, you will need to check whether they meet the new additional requirement (of ordinary residence in the UK and Islands for three years before the start of the course). The new requirement will apply to them.

Reminder of the current requirements (before the change)

To put the change into context, here is a reminder of what the existing requirements of the category are, before the change is introduced (note that these are the requirements that apply where the student themselves is the person who has humanitarian protection; there are extra requirements in the case of spouses, civil partners and children):

1. the person has been granted leave to remain on the grounds of humanitarian protection; and
2. their leave is extant (or they have an appeal pending); and
3. they have remained ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands since being granted humanitarian protection; and
4. they are ordinarily resident in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of the course.

There is no requirement to have been ordinarily resident anywhere for three years.