University tuition fees have been a contentious issue in British politics for many years. More than ever, universities are having to plug a funding gap and are doing so by recruiting more and more foreign students. Foreign students pay approximately three times more in annual fees than domestic students and this can cause complications regarding the children of British expats who wish to go to university in the UK.
British universities operate clear rules when deciding on domestic or international fees. Two factors are considered: Citizenship and Residence. Having a British passport, unfortunately, isn't enough to justify paying domestic fees only.
Your child must meet one of three citizenship requirements: Be a British citizen, have permanent immigration status in the UK or be a citizen of another European Economic Area (EEA) nation or Switzerland. Along with meeting one of the citizenship conditions, your child must have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, another EEA state or Switzerland for three years. Ordinarily resident is simply defined as 'where your home is', although there are plenty of arguments about what constitutes a permanent residence.
University fees for children of expats are likely to be the same as for foreign students. According to The Telegraph, the average international undergraduate fee is £10,781 per year. When you consider the other factors such as rent, food and course materials, this figure will likely be nearer to £20k per annum. If you wish to send your child to one of the top tier universities then expect to pay closer to £17k per year just in fees for Oxford or Cambridge, and up to £27k per annum at the top American Ivy League universities.
This makes it clear that there are some unforeseen costs when bringing up children in a foreign country. It is worth investigating how this will affect your financial choices, and planning for the future should start immediately if your children are still young. Please refer to the Family Savings Calculator to get a fuller picture of your financial commitments and discuss this with a specialist financial adviser who will be able to recommend a personalised strategy based on your choices.