I am a UK citizen in my final year of an undergraduate degree in the UK. I am considering doing a Master's degree in mainland Europe, which would be two years long. However, I am also looking into the option of returning to the UK later for a PhD and am concerned that this will make me ineligible for funding.

Most of the funding bodies for the hard sciences seem to require that a potential PhD student has been "ordinarily resident" in the UK for the past three years, but it is unclear how this applies to students. For example, if I claimed that my parents' house (where my bank accounts etc are still registered to, as I do not have a stable address as a student) was my "ordinary residence", and that I had returned to the UK on short trips over the course of my masters degree, would that be accepted? Could I claim that I am only in Europe for the purposes of study and my "ordinary residence" is the UK because that is where I hold citizenship? Or once you finish an undergraduate degree and study abroad can you no longer claim this?

  • It may depend on whether they mean "for a certain length of time (say, 6 months) in the past three years" or "for the past three years". For your own sake, this really seems like a question best posed to the funding bodies themselves.
    – Ian_Fin
    Sep 28, 2016 at 15:33
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    Expats.se is the best place for this question. If you would like it moved there, you can flag it for moderator attention.
    – StrongBad
    Sep 28, 2016 at 16:15
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question is a legal question about UK immigration law rather than academia.
    – Brian Borchers
    Sep 28, 2016 at 17:57
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    I think this is specifically relevant to academia because often there are exceptions for various legal situations when the person is a student, and legally my rights will be the same, I am only interesting in the funding situation. I was hoping someone who had done a Masters abroad and a PhD in the UK could comment on if there were any loopholes and how things worked, but that might be a fairly small number of people on this site.
    – user62493
    Sep 28, 2016 at 19:43
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    @user62493 as a moderator at both academia.se and expats.se, I think you will get a better answers at expats.
    – StrongBad
    Sep 29, 2016 at 3:05

1 Answer 1


From What is my Fee Status? - University of Cambridge:

Being absent from the UK/EU due to study abroad is usually considered a temporary absence and does not affect ordinary residence if the home/permanent address is within the UK/EU.

Also, this "Determining if a person is properly settled in the UK in order to establish if they are ordinarily resident here" document from the Department of Health says:

Finite periods of volunteering, missionary work or study abroad while the person remains a UK resident will not prevent a person being ordinarily resident

  • Thanks, this is helpful. If the graduate studies page from Cambridge considers that to not affect residency, it implies that the funding bodies probably take a similar view.
    – user62493
    Sep 28, 2016 at 19:46
  • I'm a Brit and did my masters abroad and can confirm this. Oct 7, 2016 at 14:07

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