Northern Ireland: fee status

Last modified: 12 March 2023

Before you look at this page, you should read our introductory information about 'Home' and 'Overseas' fees and find out if your course is higher education (HE) or further education (FE).

On this page special definitions are used for some words. They don't have the meanings used in everyday life, because they are the definitions used in regulations. Look at the Definitions section (at the bottom of this page) to find out about them.


Higher education (HE) courses at HE institutions

Last modified: 12 March 2023

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

The rules about who pays ‘home’ fees for higher education courses in Northern Ireland are set by the Northern Ireland Assembly (they are not set by UKCISA). They are set out in the following regulations:

The regulations identify all the different ‘categories’ of student who can insist on paying a ‘home’ rate of fee. They set out all the requirements you need to meet, to fit one those categories. If you meet all the criteria required by any one category, including any residence requirements, your institution must charge you a ‘home’ fee rate. You only need to find one category that you fit into (if you fit more than one, that is not a problem).

The regulations can be difficult to understand, so UKCISA has provided this information to help you. 

In some categories in Northern Ireland, some students pay a higher rate of ‘home’ fee than others (for example, it might be £9,250 instead of £4,710 for an undergraduate course). If this applies to a category you are looking at, you will find information about it towards the end of the category. It is not true of all categories.

There are lots of different categories to look at. Most of them are described in this pdf guide: 

The remaining categories are for very niche groups. They are described below, numbered 1 to 12 - open up the section if you think one of them might apply to you. 

1. Long Residence

2. Person granted indefinite leave as a victim of domestic violence or abuse

3. Those with indefinite leave as a bereaved partner

4. Refugees, and family

5. Those granted humanitarian protection, and family

6. Those granted stateless leave, and family

7. Those with section 67 leave

8. Persons granted Calais leave to remain

9. Those with discretionary leave, and family

10. Persons granted leave under the Afghan Schemes

11. Evacuated or assisted British nationals from Afghanistan

12. Persons granted leave under the Ukraine Schemes


Extra options if you started your course before 1 August 2021:

If you started your course before 1 August 2021, you have more options available to you. All the categories described below (at letters A to I) are open to you, as well as the categories described in the pdf guide, and a few of the categories described earlier on this web page (4, 7, and 5).

So if you started your course before 1 August 2021, you have potential to use any of the following categories (if you meet every requirement listed for the particular category):

  • the categories described below (at letters A to I)
  • the categories described in the pdf guide
  • the categories described earlier on this web page that relate to refugees and section 67 leave, plus the old version of the humanitarian protection category (see numbers 4, 7 and 5, above)

You have to meet every requirement that is listed for the category you want to use. If there is a requirement listed that says you must start your course after a particular date, check if you meet it. 

A. 'Settled' in the UK

B. 'Settled' in the UK and have exercised a 'right of residence'

C. EU nationals (or British Citizens), and family

D. ‘EU Nationals in the UK’

E. Those with the ‘right of permanent residence’ in the UK

F. EEA/Swiss workers, and family

G. Child of a former EEA migrant worker

H. Child of a Swiss National

I. Child of a Turkish worker


Courses at further education (FE) institutions

Last modified: 01 March 2023

This part of the webpage is about the conditions you need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the 'home' rate if you are studying a course at a FE institution in Northern Ireland. This includes courses of higher education (HE) as well as courses of further education (FE).

For those studying a course at a FE institution in Northern Ireland, the categories of persons eligible for 'home' fees status are summarised in a guidance document published by Northern Ireland's Department for the Economy, FE Circular 05/22 - Further Education Residency and Funding Requirements. To read the criteria for each eligibility category, see Appendix 1, paragraphs 1-8 inclusive, on pages 5-10 of that document.

'FE Circular 05/22' (above) indicates that the residence requirements outlined in its Appendix 1 are provided for by the Further Education (Student Support) (Eligibility) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012, as amended. This is legislation laid by Northern Ireland's Department for the Economy. UKCISA members can access a consolidated version of these regulations, including up-to-date amendments, in the UKCISA Manual - see Northern Ireland FE institution fees.

The regulations provide the legal foundation for defining which people must be charged a 'home' fee when studying a course at a FE institution in Northern Ireland. The circular "clarifies the requirements" in the regulations and, in many cases, explains them in a more reader-friendly way. As with previous versions of the circular(s), the current circular may also include eligibility for some students not covered by the regulations-alone. We are still working to analyse the regulations and the circular. If we spot any important differences, we will alert you here.

Definitions: for fee status assessment

Last modified: 12 January 2023

This section has explanations about words and terms which occur in our information, above. These explanations should not be read in isolation but, instead, combined with the appropriate fee status category.


European Economic Area (EEA)

European Union (EU)

First day of the academic year

Ordinary residence

Overseas Territories


UK and Islands

Relevant family members – Northern Ireland - HE courses at HE institutions

Meaning of 'child'


7 August 2021
Changes throughout to reflect widespread changes to categories from 1 August 2021.

8 August 2021
Link to pdf guide 'Who pays 'home' fees for higher education in Northern Ireland?' added.

6 December 2021
Version 2 of pdf guide (6 December 2021) uploaded, to replace version 1 (8 August 2021).
13 August 2022
Information on category 18, 'Persons granted leave under the Afghan Schemes' included. 
17 November 2022
Layout of page adjusted, for clarity. Information on categories 11 ('Evacuated or assisted British nationals from Afghanistan') and 12 ('Persons granted leave under the Ukraine Schemes') included. Notes about expiring leave, and becoming eligible, added to the special status categories. Categories A to I put into the past tense, for clarity. 
25 November 2022
Version 3 of pdf guide (25 November 2022) uploaded, to replace version 2 (6 December 2021).
12 January 2023
Section on 'If a biometric residence permit shows 'ALES' added to category 10, 'Persons granted leave under the Afghan Schemes'.