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Fee Status


Fee status terminology

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 'Who pays home fees?' guide. Please note that references to 'students' also apply to applicants and offer holders, and references to 'the University' also include its Colleges. 


Immigration status

The University will look at a student's immigration status in the UK as well their nationality when assessing their fee status. These two factors provide some indication of what a student's fee status might be, but there are many other variables that might affect the University's decision. Holding a British passport does not guarantee that you will be assessed as holding Home fee status. Equally, being a non-UK citizen does not necessarily mean that you will be classified as an international student with Overseas fee status. 


Home fee status

“Home” does not necessarily refer to someone's home or nationality. It is shorthand for “entitled to the regulated (capped) tuition fee”, which is determined by the UK government in the case of undergraduate courses (currently £9,250 p.a.). Postgraduate fees are determined by the institution providing the course. Tuition fees for undergraduate and postgraduate students with Home fee status are set at a significantly lower rate 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 for which they are applying) will pay an ELQ fee that is higher than the capped tuition fee, but is still siginificantly lower than the fees paid by international students.

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 claim Home fee status for their course. 


Overseas (sometimes known as "international") fee status

Institutions are able to set the course fee rates for "Overseas" students, including both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Their fees are unregulated by the UK Government, and therefore there is no cap on the amount that an institution can charge students with Overseas fee status. Overseas students at the University of Cambridge are also required to pay a College fee as well.


Holders of pre- or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

Most students holding pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will be eligible to pay Home fees. However, there are some differences between the residential requirements for status under the EU Settlement Scheme and those required for a student to be eligible for the Home rate of tuition fees. Consequently some students holding pre-settled status will be liaible for Overseas tuition fees. 


Ordinary residence

Each Home fee category has its own 'ordinary residence' geographical area, normally a variation on UK / Islands / EEA / their overseas territories. In fee status terms, a student's place of ordinary residence can be defined as the place in which they habitually, normally, lawfully and choose to live. Temporary absences can be discounted and therefore do not stop you from being ordinarily resident in a country during the period of temporary absence. Most Home fee categories require a student to have been ordinarily resident in a particular country or area throughout the 3 year period leading up to their course start date, and also stipulate that the student must not have been resident in that country mainly, or solely, for the purposes of full-time education. The easiest way to establish this is to determine where the student would have been living during those three years had they not been in full-time education. 

Note the importance of the phrase 'throughout the 3 year period'. 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. This applies even if they were settled outside the area for 2 or 3 months. However, they may be considered to be resident in two countries simultaneously - see 'Dual Residence' below.

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, unless the student can demonstrate that they were dependent upon, or providing care for, a member of their extended family for a period of time during the years leading up to their degree course.


Habitual residence

This refers to the place in which a student normally lives and can demonstrate ongoing 'ties' to during the three years leading up to their course start date (in contrast with temporary residence en- route to another location). Examples of habitual residence would be:

  • Utility bills showing energy consumption (aside from any standing charge) at an address within the nominated 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)
  • Bank statements showing in-person activities 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
  • Confirmed attendance at face-to-face training courses or group meetings
  • Evidence of medical appointments / GP registration letter(s)
  • Home deliveries to a particular address e.g. food delivery or other online delivery confirmation emails (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 attendance, the National Trust

This list is not exhaustive; students may have other documents that they can provide to help admissions offices accurately assess the nature of their connection with a specific country, or a wider geographical area (e.g. the EU). 


Dual residence

Occcasionally an offer holder or student is able to demonstrate that they have equally longstanding and sustained links with two countries. In these cases, fee assessors will be willing to consider the possibility that the individual is ordinarily resident in two countries at once, subject to receipt of the appropriate documented evidence.


Temporary absence

This covers medical or work trips, holidays and gap years to a country or countries outside the one in which a student normally resides, but also longer periods of residence in another country - provided the absence is demonstrably temporary in nature. It also includes periods of education, fixed-term employment or assignments (by the student or immediate family member) in a different country.

If an offer holder is claiming that a period of residence is indeed temporary, they will need to provide suitable documents as evidence of this, e.g. an internship award letter, exchange scheme offer letter, copies of all employment/assignment contracts (including extension letters) that cover the three year period used to determine ordinary residence. The University will also look for evidence of which country the family/offer holder would reside in once the employment or assignment was complete.

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 in the relevant residence area, and can therefore be discounted when calculating duration of ordinary residence in that area.


Course Start Date

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.