Fee status for European students starting courses in England in Autumn 2021

08 January 2021
If you are planning to start a course in England on or after 1 August 2021 and would have expected to pay ‘home’ fees before Brexit, you are probably wondering whether you will pay ‘home’ or ‘international’ fees.

The regulations that determine who pays ‘home’ fees are issued by England’s Department for Education. They have not issued those regulations yet, but they have issued some FAQs which help explain roughly what the situation will be for some groups. 

It is important you remember that the FAQs do not set out all the detailed requirements that will appear in the regulations (for example, the FAQs do not explain what three-year period of residence is tested, or that in some cases your ‘main purpose’ for living in a particular area might be relevant). Also, the FAQs look at some common situations, but not the less common situations.  

For that reason, you will need to wait until the regulations (and the guidance that accompanies them) are issued, to know for certain whether or not you qualify. The Department for Education has said that the regulations will be issued “early in 2021”. However, the FAQs do contain some useful information that is worth knowing now:

1. The regulations should ensure that people who are protected in the Withdrawal Agreements do not end up worse off after Brexit. 

This is how they explain that in the first FAQ:

"EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals, and their family members, lawfully resident in the UK before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 who are covered by the citizens’ rights provisions, will be eligible in England for support on broadly the same basis as now, subject to meeting the usual residency requirements.”

2. If you do not have settled status, then having pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will help in showing that you are protected in the Withdrawal Agreements. 

This is how they explain that in the first FAQ:

“In practice, the Student Loans Company (SLC) will accept proof of pre-settled status from student finance applicants, together with ID documentation, as evidence that EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members are covered by the Withdrawal Agreements. EU nationals with pre-settled status, for example, will generally be able to access tuition fee support after three years’ residence in the UK, Gibraltar, EEA and Switzerland. We anticipate that providers will take the same approach when awarding home fee status where the student has three years’ residence in the UK, Gibraltar, EEA, Switzerland or the British/EU overseas territories.”

 

 3. Residence in the Republic of Ireland will help Irish citizens qualify for ‘home’ fees

This is how they explain that in the eleventh FAQ: 

“I am an Irish citizen living in the Republic of Ireland and wish to study in England in academic year 2021/22… If you are living in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, you will continue to be eligible for home fee status and a tuition fee loan on the same basis as domestic students, subject to meeting the residency requirements. You must have lived in the Common Travel Area of the UK, Islands or Ireland for the three years immediately before the start of your course. If you have lived in the UK or Islands ['Islands' means Channel Islands or Isle of Man] for three years immediately before the start of your course, you may also be eligible for maintenance support.”

4. There will be a new provision for British Citizens and their family members

The provision is mentioned in the eighteenth FAQ, but the requirements are not explained clearly. You will need to wait until the regulations are issued, to be confident about them. 

 

5. The regulation changes will not affect you if you start your course before 1 August 2021

This is how they explain that in the first FAQ: 

“Eligibility rules are changing for EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members, who wish to commence courses in England in the academic year starting in August 2021. This will not affect students who have started their course in academic year 2020/21 (or before)”.

 

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