University Tuition Fees in Scotland: Home Students and International Students

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Clients often ask about whether they or their children will count as 'home students' at university in Scotland.  This question is a very significant one as it may often mean the difference between enrolling and not enrolling on a university course.  For those deemed to be 'international students', the huge tuition fees can represent a significant financial barrier to further education.

A student's status in Scotland is determined under reference to The Education (Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2011.  A student with a 'relevant connection with Scotland' will generally be deemed to be a home student, allowing them access to further education on the same terms as native Scottish students.  Currently, under Regulation 3 of The Education (Fees) (Scotland) Regulations 2011, a student has a relevant connection with Scotland where he or she:

"(a)is ordinarily resident in Scotland on the relevant date;

(b)has been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom and Islands throughout the period of 3 years immediately preceding the relevant date; and

(c)is settled in the United Kingdom within the meaning given by section 33(2A) of the Immigration Act 1971(1) on the relevant date."

From the 1st of August 2017, the assessment of a person's status for the purpose of fees (and student loans) in Scotland will be amended by The Education (Fees and Student Support) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.  These new regulations will amend the eligibility criteria applying to persons who are regarded as being settled in in the UK, expanding them so that if a person is not regarded as being settled in the UK then he or she may now alternatively qualify for support by virtue of a period of long residence in the UK.

So, as of the 1st of August 2017, part (c) of the definition of a relevant connection with Scotland will be expanded to the following definition:

“(c) is—
(i) settled in the United Kingdom within the meaning given by section 33(2A) of the Immigration Act 1971 on the relevant date;
(ii) under the age of 18 and has lived in the United Kingdom throughout the seven-year period preceding the relevant date; or
(iii) aged 18 years old or above and, preceding the relevant date, has lived in the United Kingdom throughout either half his or her life or a period of twenty years.”

This is a significant amendment and one which brings the position more in line with the current Immigration Rules on Article 8 ECHR private life.  We now see an acknowledgment of what used to be known as the 'seven-year rule' for children who had resided in the UK for at least seven years and an incorporation of some criteria that feature in the government's interpretation of private life at paragraph 276ADE of the Immigration Rules.  Students will now have further ways in which they can be deemed to be home students beyond simply having the right type of visa.

Lastly, it should be noted that many university institutions in Scotland operate special provisions for asylum seekers under which they may be treated as domiciled in Scotland for fee purposes.  Any students to whom such a provision may apply should liaise directly with their chosen university for further information.


John Vassiliou

John Vassiliou has worked with McGill and Co since 2010. His experience covers all aspects of UK immigration law, British nationality law, European Union law, the Refugee Convention, and the European Convention on Human Rights.