Save your British expat staff hundreds of thousands on their son/daughter’s university tuition fees

Many British expats who live abroad are unaware of the problem awaiting them when their children apply to university - being classified as overseas students. What advice can you provide to staff to help them save a life-changing amount of money?

University students in a large classroom
British expats who live and work outside the EU may unwittingly lose their son or daughter’s eligibility for Home fees at UK universities. Thousands of British students get classified as Overseas fee-payers every year at university and have to pay up to £350,000 in tuition fees. Providing good fee status advice to your staff can save them a lifechanging amount of money and prevent them from prematurely repatriating to the UK.Companies with globally mobile staff provide excellent education support to employees and their families but this is often limited to thinking about schooling. Many British expats who live abroad are unaware of the problem awaiting them when their children apply to university -  being classified as Overseas students. This can be the difference in paying £9,250 or £58,038 a year in tuition fees, depending on what course their son or daughter wants to study. And with student loans only available to Home students, for some families, it might mean not being able to go to a UK university at all if the fees are unaffordable.   
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Universities use a set of rules and regulations dictated by the Government to decide who is eligible for Home fees and therefore, able to benefit from the lower fees that are subsided by the taxpayer. As part of their admissions processes, universities will assess a student’s background by taking into account where they have lived/been schooled throughout their life, where their family’s home is and their parents’ employment circumstances, to establish if they are eligible.Essentially, students eligible for Home fees need to be:
  1. Entitled to live in the UK without restriction
  2. ‘Ordinarily resident’ in the UK OR ‘temporarily absent’ from the UK due to employment
  3. Able to demonstrate strong ‘connections’ to the UK
  4. Provide evidence for the above.
British expats occupy a ‘grey area’ in the rules where it’s not clear to universities if they meet the eligibility criteria for Home fees. Therefore, the universities interpret a student’s background and make a judgement call when deciding on these borderline cases which leads to many students being classified as Overseas, much to their surprise. Because of the subjective nature of fee status, it’s not uncommon for universities to disagree on a student’s status – where one university classifies them as Home and the other as Overseas. The uncertainty can cast a lot of worry over the university application period for many families and appealing Overseas offers can be stressful and time-consuming.Without understanding the rules around fees status, some families might consider moving back to the UK years ahead of their children starting university in a misguided attempt to secure Home fees. But this is not necessarily needed. With good fee status advice, families can successfully navigate the complex topic of fee status and preserve their Home fee eligibility while on international assignment, allowing your staff to make those big decisions about their career uninhibited and with peace of mind.As unrivalled experts with over 10 years’ experience in the field, we have helped over 1,000 families with their fee status queries. We are a team of ex university Admissions Officers, advising companies around the world on how they can support their globally mobile staff with their children’s higher education needs.

Kate Raison, of UK Study Options, participated in our Higher Education webinar - she provided advice on personal statements, the importance of gaining work experience and what to look for when visiting shortlisted universities. 

Visit the UK Study Options website for more information

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The 2019/20 UK and International Education Guides are now available to download as eBooks.
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