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EU student

Funding Information for EU Students in 2016/17

Archived information for EU students on undergraduate courses in the 2016/17 academic year.

UK Referendum to leave the EU. What does this mean?

On 24th June 2016, the result of a referendum in the UK as to whether it should remain part of the European Union was declared. The decision was that the UK should leave the EU.

What happens next is that the UK must trigger Article 50, which starts a minimum 2-year exit period from the EU. Within this time, the UK needs to re-negotiate with the EU on matters such as trade and free movement of people, workers and students.

Whilst the results of those negotiations are unknown as yet, the Student Loans Company has confirmed that current students and prospective 2016 starter students will be allowed to study and receive support from the EU for the duration of their course. The SLC released the following statement on 29th June 2016:

“EU nationals or their family members, currently in higher education, and who are assessed as eligible to receive loans and/or grants from the SLC, will continue to receive these loans and grants until they finish their course. This applies to all student finance from the SLC for students in England for which EU nationals are eligible. This includes loans to cover tuition fees (for those resident in the EEA for three years), loans and grants for maintenance (limited to those resident in the UK for at least three years), and some other grants and allowances. The rules applying to EU nationals, or their family members, who have applied for a place at university from this August to study a course which attracts student support are unchanged. The SLC will assess these applications against existing eligibility criteria, and will provide loans and/or grants in the normal way. EU nationals, or their family members, who are assessed as eligible to receive grants and/ or loans by the SLC will then be eligible for the duration of their study on that course."

Therefore, the facts currently are as follows:

  • The UK's exit from the EU will take at least 2 years, within which time the UK is still bound by EU regulations. The SLC has confirmed that current students will continue to be funded in the normal way

  • The UK Government historically protects students' rights under the same regulations under which they started their course, allowing them to complete their courses. The SLC's statement confirms this. Students starting in 2016/17 will also be protected.

  • Universities UK are now working on behalf of all universities to convince the Government to take steps to ensure that students (and staff) from EU countries can continue to work and study at British Universities following the UK's exit from the EU after the 2-year period has lapsed. The University of Sunderland is working with Universities UK on behalf of our EU students (and staff).

The European Union (EU), and European Economic Area (EEA)

The EU includes Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The EEA is made up of all the countries in the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

'Home' Fee Status

UK universities charge two rates of fee: ‘Home’ fees, charged to students who meet certain eligibility criteria, and ‘International’ fees (which are usually higher). 

EU students usually attract the ‘Home’ fees rates, which for University of Sunderland undergraduate courses in 2016/17 are either £7500, £8,750, or £9,000 per year, depending on the course you are studying.

Students who are EU nationals qualify for ‘Home’ fees if you have been ‘ordinarily resident’ anywhere in the EEA for the 3 years immediately preceding 1st September (for courses starting in the Autumn) and the main purpose of your residence in the EEA was not to receive full-time education.  If you have been absent from the EEA for part or all of the 3 year period, you may still qualify if the reason for your absence was that you, your parent/guardian or spouse were temporarily employed outside the EEA.

Help with Tuition Fees

If you meet the requirements for ‘Home’ fees and you are studying on a designated course (the majority of UK undergraduate Degrees, Foundation Degrees and Higher National Diplomas are ‘designated’) you will normally be eligible to apply for help with paying your fees. This is in the form of a Tuition Fee Loan from the UK Government.

Application forms are available from April 2016. You will need to apply to the Student Finance Services Non-UK Team, who can be contacted by telephone on 0141 243 3570.  You can also obtain an application form from the following website: www.gov.uk/student-finance .

Since September 2006, all eligible full-time EU students have been able to take out a Tuition Fee Loan. This is available to both new and continuing students and is not income-assessed. The Loan will cover the cost of your full annual tuition fee of either £7500, £8750, or £9,000 per year.

Once you have applied, the Student Finance Services Non-UK Team arrange for the Student Loans Company to pay the University the fees – and you start to repay the loan after you have left the course and are earning above a specified amount called the ‘repayment threshold’.

The Student Loans Company will work out your monthly repayment schedule using the same principles as those students who stay in the UK. You will repay 9% of your earnings over the repayment threshold. To take account of differences in living costs in other EU countries, the repayment schedule may not be the same as the UK. Find out more on the ‘Repaying from Overseas’ link on the SLC website - www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk

When you apply for the Tuition Fee Loan it can take several weeks for your application to be considered.  You will have to re-apply each year for tuition fee assistance. 

For each year of study, you must apply within 9 months of the start of the academic year.  For courses starting in the Autumn 2016, this effectively means that you must apply by the end of May 2017 at the absolute latest, otherwise the Fees Loan may not be paid.  It is advisable to apply as soon as possible, preferably before you start your course, so that you know in advance that your tuition fees will be paid for you by the Tuition Fee Loan.

Do I qualify for help from the UK with my living costs?

Most UK full-time students studying for a first degree, Foundation Degree or PGCE are funded through the Student Finance system. This system not only provides the Tuition Fee Loan, but also a Maintenance Loan for living costs and possible supplementary grants for dependant children etc.

The usual main criteria to be eligible for the full Student Finance package are:

  • you must have ‘settled status’ in the UK (e.g. a UK passport); and
  • you have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for the 3 years before the start of the course for purposes other than wholly or mainly for education.

However, you may also qualify for the full UK Student Finance Package if one of the following applies to you:

  • you are an EU resident who has lived in the ‘UK or Islands’ (the UK plus the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) for five years or more when you start your course
  • you are a student from England who is returning to the UK to study after having exercised a right of residence elsewhere in the EEA or Switzerland
  • you have EEA or Swiss migrant worker status (see below for further information)
  • you are the child of a ‘Turkish worker’

Nationals of the Republic of Ireland are treated as ‘settled’ in the UK for immigration purposes due to membership of the Common Travel Area.  However, Irish nationals must also fulfil the 3 years residency in the UK requirement in order to be eligible for living costs assistance as well as tuition fee assistance.

If you are eligible for the full Student Finance package you need to apply to Student Finance England (if you live in England) or other UK Student Finance office (if you live in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland). You can apply online at www.gov.uk/student-finance , or you can download a paper application (PN1) there if you prefer.

EEA Migrant Workers

You may qualify for ‘Home’ fee status and the full Student Finance package (i.e. funding towards living costs as well as tuition fees) if you are an EEA migrant worker, or you are the spouse or child of an EEA migrant worker.  This also applies to migrant workers from Switzerland.   To qualify as a ‘migrant worker’ you must:

  • be a national of a (non-UK) EEA country, or Switzerland; and
  • have been ordinarily resident in the EEA, or Switzerland, for the 3 years immediately before 1 September 2016 for purposes other than mainly for full-time education; and
  • student must be ordinarily resident in England and Wales on the first day of the first academic year of the course (1 September for courses commencing in Autumn); and
  • have taken up work since moving to the UK; and
  • continue to work whilst studying

‘Work’ must be ‘effective and genuine’ and involve performing services in return for pay.  There are no set rules on the length of time you need to have been working; however you must be able to demonstrate that you came into the UK with the express intention of employment in the UK, rather than you intended to study and have decided to work on top of this. You will also need to demonstrate that they can support yourself on your earnings and that you are not reliant on Student Finance.

You will not necessarily lose your migrant worker status if you become ‘involuntarily unemployed’ (for example, if you were made redundant, but not if you lost your job through misconduct), as long as you can demonstrate that you are actively seeking work.

You would not qualify for Student Finance as a migrant worker if you took up a job with a view to studying a course related to the same field of activity and your employer would not have given you the job if you had not already been accepted on to the course – i.e. if you took up the job specifically to try to gain migrant worker status in order to receive Student Support funding.

As well as help with tuition fees, Student Finance provides EEA Migrant Workers with a Maintenance Loan, and grants for students with dependants, which depend on your financial circumstances.

If you think you may qualify as an EEA Migrant Worker you should apply to the Student Finance office for the area in which you live (see above) – or through www.gov.uk/student-finance .

University of Sunderland Scholarships

The University of Sunderland will offer a number of scholarships in 2016/17 to UK and EU Students, details of which can be found on the main University website. Check out the ‘Fees and Funding’ link from the University’s homepage – www.sunderland.ac.uk

Some of the scholarships are income assessed. If you have been approved for a scholarship, you will have to inform the University of your household income. You will be advised by the University on how to do this, if you are successful in receiving a scholarship.

UK State Benefits and Tax Credits

Most full-time students are not eligible for certain state welfare benefits whatever their nationality, but there are some exceptions (e.g. lone parents, some disabled students, or student couples).  Additionally, for some benefits there is a habitual resident test.  Claimants are required to be habitually resident in the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or Isle of Man - unless they are in an excepted category such as a migrant worker.

Child Benefit is paid for each child in your care who is under 16 (or under 19 if in full-time non-advanced education).  You can claim this if you, your spouse or child have been in the UK for 6 months, or sooner if your country has a reciprocal agreement with the UK.  If you or your spouse begin work and pay National Insurance contributions you can claim Child Benefit from the Inland Revenue immediately.

Child Tax Credit (CTC) is paid to low and middle income parents who have responsibility for a child.  Working Tax Credit (WTC) is paid to low or middle income adults who work 16/24 hours or more per week who have responsibility for a child or have a disability or who are (or their partners are) over 25 and working 30 hours or more per week.  Under EU and UK Law, EEA and Swiss nationals should not be excluded from these Tax Credits simply because they are students or on the basis of their nationality.

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