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Fee Status


Further information

Universities use a variety of different terms in relation to fee status assessment, and the meaning of these terms within this context is often different to their use in everyday conversation. The more frequently-used terms are explained below, but other terminology and definitions can be found in the UKCISA guide  'Who pays home fees?' . Please note that references to 'students' also apply to applicants and offer holders, and references to 'the University' also include its Colleges. 

Q. How does my immigration status affect my fee status?

Fee status is determined by a combination of three factors: a student's UK immigration status, their nationality and their countries of ordinary residence (see below). Consequently not all British passport holders are eligible for Home fee status. Equally, a number of non-UK citizens will be eligible for Home fees. 

Q. What do you mean by Home fee status?

“Home” doesn't necessarily refer to someone's nationality or the country they currently live in. It is shorthand for “entitled to the regulated (capped) tuition fee”, which is set by the UK government and is currently £9,250 p.a.. There are a number of different categories of student who are eligible for Home fees; an offer holder only needs to meet the requirements for one category in order to pay the Home fee for their course.

Note that the regulated fee only applies to undergraduate courses; postgraduate fees are set by the institution providing the course. Tuition fees for undergraduate and postgraduate students with Home fee status are significantly lower than the fees paid by international students. There is one exception to this rule: undergraduates with Home fee status who are classified as ELQ students (i.e. they already hold an Equivalent Level Qualification to the one they're planning to take) will pay an ELQ fee that is higher than the regulated fee. However, the Home ELQ fee is still significantly lower than the fee paid by international students.

Q. What does Overseas (or "international") fee status mean?

Institutions are able to set the course fee rates for all students (undergraduate and postgraduate) who are assessed as "Overseas" students. The Overseas course fee is not regulated by the UK Government, and therefore there is no cap on the amount that institutions can charge students with this fee status. Overseas undergraduate students at the University of Cambridge are also required to pay a College fee as well.

Q. Will a student holding pre- or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme pay Home or Overseas fees?

Most students holding pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme are eligible to pay Home fees. However, the residency requirements for pre- and settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme are different to those required for Home fee status. Consequently a (very) small number of students holding pre-settled status will be liable for Overseas tuition fees. 

Q. What do you mean by 'ordinary residence'?

Each Home fee category includes an 'ordinary residence' requirement, which refers to a geographical area covering one or more countries. In most cases, a candidate must have been resident in one or a combination of the UK / Islands / EEA / their overseas territories throughout the three years leading up to their planned course start date (although there are some variations on this). The word 'throughout' is very important here - an individual ordinarily resident outside the relevant geographical area for any part of the 3 year period automatically fails to meet the ordinary residence requirements.

In fee status terms, a student's place of ordinary residence can be defined as the place in which they habitually, lawfully and choose to live. Temporary absences from this area can be discounted and therefore do not stop the student from being considered ordinarily resident in that country whilst they are temporarily resident elsewhere. It is also possible for someone to be simultaneously 'ordinarily resident' in two countries - see 'What constitutes dual residence?' 

Please note that a student wouldn't be considered ordinarily resident in a country if they are living there mainly, or solely, for the purposes of full-time education. The easiest way to establish country of ordinary residence is to determine where a student would have been living if they had not been in full-time education. 

For many undergraduates, their country of ordinary residence will be the place in which their parent(s) were living during this three year qualifying period. The country in which the student's extended family live is normally of less significance, although fee assessors will take into consideration any period of time spent caring for, or dependent on, a member of their extended family during the years leading up to their degree course.

Q. What does habitual residence mean?

This refers to the place in which a student normally lives and can provide evidence of established links with that country/countries throughout the three years leading up to their course start date. Examples of habitual residence would be:

  • Utility bills showing energy consumption (not merely a standing charge) at an address within the stated country for each of the three years.
  • Council Tax bill (alongside other proofs of residency, as some landlords remain liable for Council tax bills whilst the property is let)
  • Parent or student's employment contract(s)
  • Bank statements showing in-person spending within that country/geographical area
  • Evidence of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) or tax paid on earnt income
  • Travel tickets within that country/geographical area
  • TV licence
  • UK driving licence (in combination with other documents)
  • Confirmed attendance at in-person training courses or meetings in the community
  • Evidence of medical appointments / GP registration letter(s)
  • Annual rail card
  • Home deliveries to a particular address e.g. supermarket, department store (ideally for a selection of dates over the three year ordinary residence period)
  • Membership of a local or national organisation or society e.g. attendance at a place of worship, music lessons, youth group or club attendance

This list is not exhaustive; students may be able to provide other documents that prove they are habitually resident in a specific country, or a wider geographical area (e.g. the EU). 

Q. What constitutes dual residence?

Some offer holders and students will be able to provide evidence of their having simultaneous longstanding and sustained links with two countries. In these cases, fee assessors should consider the possibility of the individual being ordinarily resident in two countries at once, subject to receipt of the appropriate documented evidence.

Q. What types of absence can be classified as temporary absence?

This covers medical or work trips, holidays and gap years to a country/countries outside the one in which a student normally resides, but also longer periods of residence in another country - provided they can provide evidence that the absence was for a fixed period. Temporary absence also includes periods of education, fixed-term employment or assignments (by the student or immediate family member) in a different country.

An offer holder wishing to provide evidence of temporary residence must be able to provide official documents as evidence of this, e.g. an internship award letter, exchange scheme offer letter, copies of all employment/assignment contracts (including extension letters). Without evidence, the University is likely to consider the absence to be permanent. When assessing temporary absence, the University will look at all the information that the student has provided to determine where they would normally have been resident during that time.

There is no hard and fast rule which stipulates the maximum length of time that can be considered as temporary absence, so fee assessors will also look for evidence of the original intention and reason(s) for the period of absence on a case-by-case basis.

It is worth reiterating that periods of temporary absence do not break the continuity of ordinary residence. They should therefore be discounted when calculating duration of ordinary residence in a country or area.

Q. Do the 'course start dates' stated in the Fee Regulations match those used by the University of Cambridge?

Although degree courses at the University of Cambridge begin several days or weeks later, the official 'course start dates' as stated by the Fee Regulations are:

1 September for undergraduate courses

1 September, 1 January or 1 April for postgraduate courses

Consequently these are the dates used by the University in relation to fee status assessments.


Q. I'm studying for an undergraduate degree which offers an optional fourth year of study. Does my fee status get reassessed at the start of my fourth year?

This is covered under the 'Integrated courses' section of the page titled 'Can my fee status change?'