In a letter published in The Times, a group of MPs called for an end to higher fees imposed on students from Hong Kong. They deemed the British National (Overseas) visa a ‘great success’ but stated that since BNO visa holders are not eligible for home fees status until they have lived in the UK for five years, higher education rules ‘create an unnecessary impediment to opportunity.’
Students from Hong Kong therefore face higher fees without being able to access student loans. The MPs argue that the exceptional status granted to Ukrainian students should also be afforded to students from Hong Kong.
What is a BNO visa?
A BNO visa is available for those from Hong Kong who are British nationals overseas and their family members. It allows people to live, work, and study in the UK. Under the visa, you cannot usually apply for most benefits. You can apply for the visa if your permanent home is in Hong Kong or in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Hong Kong if you’re applying in the UK.
Government data revealed last week that 113,742 people from Hong Kong have been granted BNO visas from the UK since the scheme first opened on January 31st 2021. The government is expecting about 300,000 people to use apply for BNO visas and use this route to citizenship in the next five years.
Currently, students with BNO visas have to be a resident in the UK for five years before they can access loan funding.
Building new lives
Director of integration think tank British Future, Sunder Katwala, said: ‘Britain has done the right thing in welcoming new arrivals from Hong Kong. The families arriving are here to stay and want to build new lives and careers in Britain. Like all of us, they want the best for their kids.’
‘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,’ they continued on.
A sixth former in South Wales who moved to the UK from Hong Kong under the scheme told The Independent:
‘Along with dealing with cultural differences and adaptation in moving to and settling in the UK… I have concerns over how our non-eligibility for local university fees and student loans will affect my opportunities in advancing in my education for the future.’