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My student fee status has been questioned by the university and I’m worried that my fees will go up – Is there anything I can do?

My student fee status has been questioned by the university and I’m worried that my fees will go up – Is there anything I can do?

All UK universities charge two different tuition fee rates for each individual course, depending on whether a student is classed as a 'home' or 'overseas' student. Traditionally, 'home' fees are charged to students from the UK and within the EU (although having a UK passport may not, on its own, mean you will be a ‘home’ student, as there is other criteria that universities will apply), whereas international students are given 'overseas' status and are charged the corresponding fees. Although the UK is preparing to leave the EU, for now, EU students are still categorised as 'home' students until the Government passes legislation which may then change this.

The reason there are two sets of fees in the first place is that UK universities are eligible for government funding to help support the cost of providing education to home students, but not for overseas students. The government also lays out the regulations that decide into which category students must fall. What this means is that if you do not fall into one of the categories that define you as a home student, you are automatically an overseas student and will be charged accordingly. Sometimes, however, things are not quite as straightforward as they might appear and there are problems concerning interpretation of the regulations. Also, on occasion, a student's status might have been determined but may then be called into question and challenged by the university.

What to do if your status is changed during your course

The majority of fee status cases involve students being classed as deemed ‘overseas’ students, when, in fact, they should be ‘home” students. In such cases, arguments and evidence will need to be put forward to the university. In addition, on rare occasions, students may be granted home student status and may begin their course in good faith, only to be informed by the university part way into the course that in fact they should actually be categorised as an overseas students. Whether this is because of a simple mistake in the first instance, because of a change in circumstances or because new information has come to light, it can be a very distressing development for the student in question and can put a considerable strain on their ability to pay for and therefore complete their course.

If this has happened to you and you are experiencing difficulties with your student fee status, Match Solicitors may be able to help you defend your case with your university or academic institution. It is important to remember that the law in this area is far from straightforward. There are grey areas where interpretation of the legislation and regulations surrounding student fee status can vary from person to person or institution to institution. Sometimes even the institutions themselves admit to being confused. Therefore, it is always worth your while to have decisions concerning your student status checked over by an independent legal expert.

Match have represented students on many occasions. In one recent example, a long-time resident of the UK who happened to have been born outside of the UK and had also spent some considerable time abroad was granted a place at his first-choice university, but was deemed to be an overseas student by the institution. At that point, he sought assistance from our team of highly experienced education lawyers, who gathered all of the appropriate evidence before making written representations to the student's University. We presented our client's case to be reconsidered as a home student in a clear and succinct manner and consequently, the University accepted that he had been wrongly classified and his status was changed to that of a home student.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and you have not been accorded the student fee status you feel is fair or correct, give us a call at Match Solicitors today and speak to one of our team of specialist education lawyers in confidence. 

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