Today I am announcing that the Government is increasing the residency requirement for EU nationals before they can access Higher Education student living cost support.
In England, EU nationals and their families are able to apply for a tuition fee loan and be charged the “home” rate of fees to attend Higher Education. This mirrors provisions available to UK students wishing to study abroad in other EU countries. To access student finance, EU nationals need to have been resident in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the three years prior to the first day of the first academic year. EU nationals who have been resident in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man for three years can also apply for support for their living costs.
The Higher Education student support budget is under pressure from increasing numbers of applicants from the EU and the Government is taking steps to manage the burden on the taxpayer.
The Government is therefore increasing the residency requirement that EU nationals must meet in order to be eligible for living cost support. EU nationals that start their courses in the 2016/17 academic year onwards will be required to demonstrate five years’ residency in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. This change will come into effect for applications submitted to the Student Loans Company after the amending regulations have come into force later this month. Students who are already studying will not be affected by these changes.
This change will bring us more into line with the rules set by other EU countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden who generally require five years’ residency in the home country before students become eligible for living cost support. The recently published Student Loan Repayment Strategy will help to ensure all borrowers repay what is due.
The increased residency requirement will not apply to UK nationals to whom the existing three year residency rule will continue to apply. EEA migrant workers and their family members are also not affected by this change.
I am grateful to those who responded to the consultation, and whose comments helped us carefully consider the implications of our proposals.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: