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Key Issue

UK University fees for Overseas based British Students - a review of this area for a more equitable solution


The background is that the UK government currently charges overseas nationals a massive premium on the tuition fees charged to UK nationals who are defined as resident in Britain, indeed in general 2 to 3 times more.  The reality is that these UK national students, who are resident in the United Kingdom, are paying well below the cost of the courses and are in effect receiving a hefty subsidy from the foreign nationals who are paying well over the cost.


The UK government currently heavily penalizes UK citizen students who are applying from a non-UK address irrespective of whether the parents have just recently moved overseas or who have lived overseas for some time or have always lived overseas by forcing them to pay the same high fees being charged to overseas nationals.

In addition, UK students who do not qualify as locally resident students are handicapped again as they cannot take advantage of any of the government student loan schemes.

The policy itself can often look ridiculous because different universities are allowed to apply the rules differently and indeed in practice there do seem to be a few ways students who are resident overseas can end up being classified as local by the clever completion of the forms.


The main argument for overseas based UK students paying vastly different fees is because the parents are not at the time of application UK taxpayers

What the Forum says

The Forum has a working group looking at this. Simply giving all overseas  based students the same deal as locally based students is probably not going to be the recommendation. However there are many ideas to improve the situation which may also work to the overall advantage of the United Kingdom.

One idea is that UK students who are applying from overseas should at least be able to pay fees that equate to the full cost of the courses rather than the substantially higher fees currently being charged to foreign nationals.

Other ideas include considering the length of time that the parents have been away as to what premium fee is charged. Another is that for subjects which are deemed to be particularly necessary or beneficial for the UK economy, local fees could be charged but perhaps subject to a bond (claw back) should the student not work in the UK for a requisite number of years after qualifying.

Given that UK universities do already make a reasonable charge for UK resident students there does not seem to be a compelling reason to penalize all students who have received their secondary education abroad. Some students, and their parents, may only recently have moved abroad for example.

Whatever the situation, a clear and fair UK policy is required and the forum is committed to researching and reporting the real situation and coming up with a good solution for students and also what is good for the United Kingdom in general.

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