Give Hong Kong students home fee status in UK, MPs urge

Senior Conservatives among those warning against ‘penalising’ new arrivals with international fees

May 31, 2022
Lantau, Hong Kong - August 05, 2018  Passengers carries luggage at Hong Kong International Airport
Source: iStock

Senior Conservative MPs have backed calls for students from Hong Kong to be given access to home fee status in the UK.

Tens of thousands of Hongkongers have moved to the former colonial power amid increasingly authoritarian Chinese rule in the city, with British National (Overseas) status – which allows them to live, work and study in the UK – set to be extended from October to adults born after 1997 who have at least one BN(O) parent.

But a letter backed by leading parliamentarians highlights that these students face paying university tuition fees costing thousands of pounds more a year than their UK-born counterparts, since they are not eligible for home fee status or government-backed public finance until they been resident in the UK for five years.

The letter, published in The Times, calls for Hongkongers to be treated in the same way as Ukrainian refugees, who have been given home fee status in England and some of the devolved nations.

The signatories include Conservative MPs Sir Robert Buckland, former justice secretary, and Damian Green, a former Cabinet Office minister; influential backbencher Steve Baker; and Nus Ghani, an outspoken critic of China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority.

The letter, coordinated by the Welcoming Committee for Hong Kongers, is also backed by Labour MPs Paul Blomfield and Liam Byrne.

Compared with the domestic fee rate of £9,250, international undergraduate fees can range between £11,400 and £32,081.

Sunder Katwala, director of the thinktank British Future, said: “We shouldn’t be penalising young people from Hong Kong with high international fees, which will put university out of reach for many. This is their home now and they should be treated as home students.”

The call comes after Lord Patten of Barnes, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, told Times Higher Education that Western countries should offer bursaries to young people from the city.

Amid the passing of a controversial national security law, the past 12 months in Hong Kong have seen the arrest of student activists, the dissolution of student unions and the removal of pro-democracy monuments, including a statue on one university campus commemorating victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre

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