The Scottish Government has published its response to its recent consultation on ‘Further and higher education - residency criteria for access to financial support’. Further to this consultation, Scottish Government has also laid new, amending regulations, The Education (Fees and Student Support) (Miscellaneous Amendment) (Scotland) Regulations 2023 (legislation.gov.uk), coming into effect on 1 August 2023. In line with the consultation response, these amendment regulations make a couple of significant changes to Scotland’s fees regulations and Student Support regulations; The Education (Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 and The Student Support (Scotland) Regulations 2022, respectively.
Change to the category for those with a ‘Relevant connection to Scotland’
The category for those with a ‘Relevant connection to Scotland’ is being amended to remove the ‘Long residence’ provisions. The provisions for those who are ‘settled’ will remain in place alongside a new, alternative provision for those who have been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK and whose leave has not expired. Therefore, there will no longer be the need for someone to satisfy a fees assessor, or Student Awards Agency Scotland, that they have lived in the UK for up to half their life. From 1 August 2023, they will only have to demonstrate that they have current immigration permission in the UK. In the same way that family members of those with ‘settled’ status are provided for under this category, provision will also be made for family members of those persons granted leave to enter or remain. The three-year ordinary residence test will remain in place throughout this category for those with ‘settled’ status, for persons ‘granted leave to enter or remain,’ and for the family members of either group.
All requirements under this category will remain connected to the relevant date. This means that for someone to be eligible they will need to meet, or have met, all the requirements at the start of their course and are not likely to become eligible under this category part-way through their course.
The amendment regulations make it clear that this new provision does not apply to those who have applied for refugee status. However, such people are already provided for elsewhere in the regulations. Scottish Government also stated, in its consultation response, that it does not intend this new provision to be used by those in the UK with Student route permission:
“Those who enter the UK on a study visa will remain ineligible for home fee status and student financial support as they have entered the UK for the purposes of education and therefore do not meet the ordinary resident test.”
We will seek clarity on this point with Scottish Government, having already raised it in our response to the consultation. Those in the UK as the dependants of Student visa holders will, in theory, be able to use this category. However, they will be subject to the ordinary residence requirement and, as such, many will not yet have acquired three years’ residency.
Change to the category for those who are young asylum seekers or children of asylum seekers
The category for ‘Persons who are children of asylum seekers and young asylum seekers’ is also being amended. Scottish Government is removing the upper age limit that has applied until now. To be eligible under this category a person will no longer be required to be under 25 years old on the relevant date. A further change will mean that, whilst a child of an asylum seeker, or a person who is a young asylum seeker, will still be required to have been under 18 years old on the date when the relevant asylum application was made, there will no longer be a requirement that the application must have been made prior to 1 December 2006.
Other changes and issues
Some other small changes are being made to the category for Ukrainian nationals. We are seeking clarity about this with Scottish Government as they appear to duplicate changes already scheduled to be made on 1 August 2023 by virtue of amendment regulations laid last year.
We are also going to seek clarity from Scottish Government about whether these changes apply only to those starting new courses from 1 August 2023 or whether they also apply to those already studying on a course started before 1 August 2023.
Please bear with us whilst we work to update our information on Scotland: fee status to bring it up to date with these changes.