Home or Overseas fees: the basics

Last modified: 08 February 2024

Publicly funded educational institutions normally charge two levels of fee: a lower 'home' fee and a higher 'overseas' fee. Private sector institutions often have only one level of tuition fee, which all students must pay.

Whether you pay a 'home' or 'overseas' fee depends on whether you meet certain criteria.

UKCISA does not create the criteria for fee status. The fee status criteria is provided in regulations, and guidance, published by the governments of the four countries of the UK. Different criteria will be applied depending on which country you are studying in, and whether you are studying a course at higher education (HE) or further education (FE) level.

Please read the information on this page before looking at our explanation of the fees regulations and/or guidance for your relevant area of the UK:

Higher education (HE) or further education (FE)?

Last modified: 23 February 2017

Higher education (HE) courses include HNC and HND courses, undergraduate degrees (for example, BA, BSc, BEd), and postgraduate degrees (for example, MA, MSc, PhD).

Further education (FE) courses include GCSEs, AS and 'A' levels (and their equivalents), NVQs, GNVQs, BTECs, and Access courses.

If you are not sure whether your course is HE or FE, ask your place of study. If your course is a HE course, the institution will usually decide your fee status on the basis of the relevant fees regulations. If your course is a FE course, the institution might consider charging you 'home' fees even if you do not come within the categories in the fees regulations; this will depend on your circumstances.

How much are ‘overseas’ fees?

Last modified: 31 January 2018

'Overseas' fees can range from £3,500 to about £18,000 per year depending on the institution, the level of your course, and the type of course. The fee will probably increase each year by the level of inflation. You should contact the institutions you have applied to in order to find out what the fees are for your course and whether they can tell you what the fees will be for future years. Read Complete University Guide's Reddin survey of university tuition fees.

Your institution will probably ask you to give them some information about yourself, and your family, to help it assess your fee status. It will use the information you give to check if you fit into one of the categories for 'home' fees. You may be asked to provide documents (for example, a passport or official letters) to support the information you give.

Appealing a fee status decision

Last modified: 23 February 2017

If you think a mistake has been made with your fee status decision, do not sign any document/contract agreeing to pay the 'overseas' rate of fee. Contact the institution immediately and ask it to explain the decision. After this, if you still think the decision is wrong, give the reasons why you think there has been a mistake. It is important to communicate in writing and to keep copies of all correspondence.

If you are still not satisfied with the decision, contact an adviser at your institution or Students' Union. Alternatively, you can telephone our Advice Line, where we will be happy to discuss your concerns. However, please note, we cannot get involved in individual disputes between you and your institution.

Becoming ‘home’ after the course has started

Last modified: 08 February 2024

Although it is possible for your circumstances to change so that you stop being an ‘overseas’ fee payer and become a ‘home’ fee payer for the second (or later) year of your course, it is extremely unusual. 

Test yourself against the requirements for each category of ‘home’ student at the start of each year, and let your fee assessor know if something in your circumstances has changed so that you now qualify.  For example, if you receive indefinite leave, or if you receive a decision on your asylum application, or if you become the family member of a type of person mentioned in one of the categories - in all these circumstances you should check through the categories again, and see if you meet all the requirements for one of the categories for the next academic year of your course. Remember you need to meet every single requirement listed for a category.

It is worth knowing that in the past receiving indefinite leave during your course did not help. However, the regulations changed, and for academic years that start on or after 1 August 2024, it can make a difference - so do let your fee assessor know about it straightaway.

One false hope that some people have is that although they did not meet a requirement about having three years’ ordinary residence in an area before the start of the course, they can make up the time during their course. That is not true. If you did not have three years’ ordinary residence in a relevant area before the start of your course, you will fail that requirement for the whole of the course.

Am I insured for fees?

Last modified: 21 March 2017
Unfortunately, students sometimes have to leave their courses early, or repeat part/all of their courses, due to accidents or illnesses during their studies. You may wish to look at options for buying insurance to provide a proportionate refund of your pre-paid course fees if you are worried about this sort of situation affecting you. Whether or not you choose to buy insurance, you should be clear on what your place of study says about course fee refund options.

‘No recourse to public funds’

Last modified: 23 February 2017

If you have the sentence ‘No recourse to public funds’ included in your passport stamp, or printed on your Biometric Residence Permit, you will not be in breach of your immigration conditions if you have access to education in the UK.

In the Introduction to the Immigration Rules, ‘Public funds’ are defined as a specific list of welfare benefits. This list does not include education or any education funding. Therefore, being charged a 'home' tuition fee does not mean you are in receipt of public funds.