On 25 March 2021, Student Finance England (SFE) published its Assessing Eligibility Guidance for the 2021/2022 academic year (it is the pdf titled 'Guidance chapter - Asssessing Eligibility 2021/22' in the right column). Although it is written for Student Support assessors who are making decisions about Student Support applications, it is also of interest to fees assessors. This is because the Department for Education is responsible for issuing both the Student Support regulations and the fees regulations, and there are many concepts that are common to both. The Department for Education provides input into the SFE Assessing Eligibility Guidance, so in cases of doubt about what is intended by the regulations, it can serve as one of a variety of sources of information about what was intended. However, the regulations always take precedence.
Also, fees assessors need to be aware that there are some important points of difference between the requirements a person needs to meet to be eligible for ‘home’ fees, and those they need to meet to be eligible for Student Support. The SFE Assessing Eligibility Guidance must therefore never be used to make fees assessments.
UKCISA will take the new SFE Assessing Eligibility Guidance into account when producing our analysis of the regulations for fee status for students who are starting higher education courses in England from 1 August 2021 onwards.
We are busy analysing the regulations, but they are long and complex, and full of references out to EU law and the law relating to Brexit – so that will take time. We appreciate your patience while we do that. We will not be able to publish information about the eligibility criteria for each of the categories of student who are entitled to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate until we complete that analysis.
Members can download our consolidated version of The Higher Education (Fee Limit Condition) (England) Regulations 2017, showing how those regulations will look for academic years starting 1 August 2021 or later, from the Resources box at the bottom of 2.5 Fees regulations for August 2021 onwards in the UKCISA manual. Members should also read yesterday’s story about Fees regulations in England: two notes from DfE for institutions.