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Moving back to UK for A levels

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I’m Australian in London planning a move back to Australia. My kids have done all their schooling in England.  My eldest son is in UK Year 9. I am trying to work through all possibilities and I wondered if anyone has any experience of coming to the UK for A levels? 
We hope it will work out long term and appreciate that it would probably be better for education to be in the one system from 15-18, but would like to know if it’s feasible to rejoin the UK system at A levels. 
He is bright and currently at a good school. 
Thank you. 

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2 hours ago, CornishDoc said:

I’m Australian in London planning a move back to Australia. My kids have done all their schooling in England.  My eldest son is in UK Year 9. I am trying to work through all possibilities and I wondered if anyone has any experience of coming to the UK for A levels? 
We hope it will work out long term and appreciate that it would probably be better for education to be in the one system from 15-18, but would like to know if it’s feasible to rejoin the UK system at A levels. 
He is bright and currently at a good school. 
Thank you. 

It is perfectly feasible, international students do it all the time in the UK boarding schools.

However if you are coming back in order to do A Levels and then go to a UK Univeristy on a UK Student/Loan and pay home fees and not international fees, beware....

The Uk government have already seen through that "move" and so you only qualify for UK home status on uni fees (and hence pay less for teaching and can access loans from student finance) if you have resided in the UK for the last three years.

Moving for A Levels would only give 2 years and hence your son would still be an international student.

If you aren't planning ona UK university or are loaded this isn't an issue (also home or international fee status is set on day one of admission - so you would be paying international fees for all 3 years even though at the end of year one of Uni you would have been resident 3 years - this is because institutions hav quotas on places and onmce you are granted an overseas place you can't switch out)

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53 minutes ago, Ausvisitor said:

It is perfectly feasible, international students do it all the time in the UK boarding schools.

However if you are coming back in order to do A Levels and then go to a UK Univeristy on a UK Student/Loan and pay home fees and not international fees, beware....

The Uk government have already seen through that "move" and so you only qualify for UK home status on uni fees (and hence pay less for teaching and can access loans from student finance) if you have resided in the UK for the last three years.

Moving for A Levels would only give 2 years and hence your son would still be an international student.

If you aren't planning ona UK university or are loaded this isn't an issue (also home or international fee status is set on day one of admission - so you would be paying international fees for all 3 years even though at the end of year one of Uni you would have been resident 3 years - this is because institutions hav quotas on places and onmce you are granted an overseas place you can't switch out)

But they could take a gap year couldn't they, as long as they were resident in the UK, and reapply after the gap year?

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30 minutes ago, newjez said:

But they could take a gap year couldn't they, as long as they were resident in the UK, and reapply after the gap year?

Technically that's true, there are a few gotchas to be aware of though.

1) The period of A Level will need to be "habitual" residence in the UK not just for schooling, so can't be boarding school (unless the family residence is also in the UK) and can't be spending all school holidays outside of the country

2) The gap year needs to be in the UK, if the parents stay in the Uk but the kid goes off round Malaysia (for example) that won't count either - equally if the kid stayed in the UK but both parents went back to OZ that also often doesn't count.

It can be done, but there are lots of legal residence landmines hidden away that can trip you up

Edited by Ausvisitor
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Could be not stay at school in UK until end of A levels? That way he would get GCSEs as well, which would stand him in his stead if he wanted a UK Uni. One aims he's an Australian citizen so will be able to come and go at will, so he could visit you for holidays, Maybe he could board  with family or friends - he would probably still be OK for the "habitually resident" requirement.  I don't think it would be a Bright move to take him to Australia for 9&10 then back for A levels, stick with one system. 

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Have you considered the International Baccalaureate?  Sorry to throw something in that's not strictly on topic, but it's something I'm in the early days of researching and indications are that it's A-level and HSC equivalent but more internationally recognised than HSC.  It also has the advantage that the exam mark is not scaled so there is no ceiling on the number of students who can achieve a perfect grade of 45, which converts to a 99.95 ATAR. Whereas only 0.5% of HSC students can achieve the maximum ATAR due to scaling. 

 

Edited by FirstWorldProblems
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38 minutes ago, FirstWorldProblems said:

Have you considered the International Baccalaureate?  Sorry to throw something in that's not strictly on topic, but it's something I'm in the early days of researching and indications are that it's A-level and HSC equivalent but more internationally recognised than HSC.  It also has the advantage that the exam mark is not scaled so there is no ceiling on the number of students who can achieve a perfect grade of 45, which converts to a 99.95 ATAR. Whereas only 0.5% of HSC students can achieve the maximum ATAR due to scaling. 

 

I don't know a lot about the international baccalaureate, only from what my son tells me. But he had a couple of very gifted friends who took it, but their results didn't reflect this. Whether that was affected by covid, I'm not sure, as last years A levels were a bit of a mess.

Edited by newjez
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6 hours ago, FirstWorldProblems said:

Have you considered the International Baccalaureate? 

My sister put her kids through the Baccalaureate and wouldn't recommend it.   The problem is not so much the curriculum, as the social aspects.  Most of the children who do the Bacc are children of diplomats and high-flying corporate expats.  As a result, the boys have friends scattered all over the world now - which is nice in a way, but they have few friends locally.  Most kids at the local school will have one or two mates they'll move on to university with - not her boys.  Also, of course, it's not easy to keep up with schoolmates who throw their birthday parties at the Consulate or jet off to the Riviera every summer.

By coincidence, one of my exes did the Baccalaureat in New Zealand.   He found that Australian and New Zealand employers had no idea what it was (whereas they understood A levels).

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Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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When I was an expat, the 3 year UK schooling rule was in place. I have no idea if things are stricter now?

Our family dwelling was overseas, but all our three were in UK for their education.

The older two were already at university.

Our youngest was 13 and had to go to boarding school, they all joined us overseas for their holidays.

We kept a place in UK, for the occasional visit back and for the older two.

There was absolutely no problem for our daughter to go to university, despite her home dwelling being overseas, and previously in boarding school.

Education facilities changed where we were with an international school opening too late for our daughter. Just about everyone sent their children to the international school and then back to UK for A levels, giving grandparents as their address? No idea if that was allowed? but no one ever had a problem and somehow all went on to university straight from school, don’t ask me how I’ve no idea, but of my friends three children two went to Bristol and one to Cardiff.

i do agree with quoll, it might be very disruptive to chop and change between two different education systems, plus he will probably have established a friendship group here by then.  I speak from experience here as we had to move our daughter midway through her GCSE’s it had to be done, but it wasn’t an easy thing for her to cope with, plus trust me it isn’t an ideal situation being on the other side of the world to your children at any age especially teenagers.

It wasn’t a problem for all our friends children to move back to UK for A levels as they had followed the British school system in the international school.

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I used to do assessment for fees in a university overseas student department, things my have changed but I'll say what our criteria were.  There's a caveat that I've not done this for a number of years, and how the Student Loans Company assess status is different.

First off, its the university who decides whether you're a home or overseas student, so we have discretion for individual circumstances.  If you wrote us a nice letter saying that you'd only been in the country for two years because your family had moved back from overseas and you considered your future to be in Britain we'd probably let you in as a home student.

Bear in mind that your fee status remains as it was when you were assessed; if you were assessed as International at the start of the course, you remain International throughout your studies, so you can't do a year as an International then tick over to Home after doing a year and getting three years residency total

Technically, people who board while having a residence overseas are NOT eligible for Home fee status - the criteria is "resident in the UK for three years for reasons other than education".  If you have a mailing address or a rental or something I'm sure you can get away with using that - I don't actually recall that we checked too closely: a bum on a seat is a bum on a seat.

A year of residency is determined by being in the country at the cutoff date which I think was August 31st; if you arrived in the country on August 29th, as of the 31st officially that was one year.

If you have any queries, email the fees department of a given university, they're basically there to do this kind of stuff so are best placed to give you advice.

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On 27/02/2021 at 18:14, Eera said:

I used to do assessment for fees in a university overseas student department, things my have changed but I'll say what our criteria were.  There's a caveat that I've not done this for a number of years, and how the Student Loans Company assess status is different.

First off, its the university who decides whether you're a home or overseas student, so we have discretion for individual circumstances.  If you wrote us a nice letter saying that you'd only been in the country for two years because your family had moved back from overseas and you considered your future to be in Britain we'd probably let you in as a home student.

Bear in mind that your fee status remains as it was when you were assessed; if you were assessed as International at the start of the course, you remain International throughout your studies, so you can't do a year as an International then tick over to Home after doing a year and getting three years residency total

Technically, people who board while having a residence overseas are NOT eligible for Home fee status - the criteria is "resident in the UK for three years for reasons other than education".  If you have a mailing address or a rental or something I'm sure you can get away with using that - I don't actually recall that we checked too closely: a bum on a seat is a bum on a seat.

A year of residency is determined by being in the country at the cutoff date which I think was August 31st; if you arrived in the country on August 29th, as of the 31st officially that was one year.

If you have any queries, email the fees department of a given university, they're basically there to do this kind of stuff so are best placed to give you advice.

This is really helpful. We are UK citizens and have been in Australia for 10 years- we  came back in 2019, when my son started year 9 and then got went back to Sydney to get organised to start GCSEs in October 2020.

We have missed the boat due to lockdowns and so are now planning to get back to start A levels this year ( as cant go 18 months into GCSE year) but UCAS needs GCSE results in order to apply for uni....any idea how to get around this if you have been schooled in Australia? Does this mean that you can't apply/have to apply as overseas etc? The move back is permanent as we were over in Sydney for work but we are worried that it might cause some issues with our son going to uni- 1. as only back 2 years for A levels( for home status) 2. no GCSE for UCAS applications....would love it if anyone has been in this situation and can help! 

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2 hours ago, aimee.s said:

This is really helpful. We are UK citizens and have been in Australia for 10 years- we  came back in 2019, when my son started year 9 and then got went back to Sydney to get organised to start GCSEs in October 2020.

We have missed the boat due to lockdowns and so are now planning to get back to start A levels this year ( as cant go 18 months into GCSE year) but UCAS needs GCSE results in order to apply for uni....any idea how to get around this if you have been schooled in Australia? Does this mean that you can't apply/have to apply as overseas etc? The move back is permanent as we were over in Sydney for work but we are worried that it might cause some issues with our son going to uni- 1. as only back 2 years for A levels( for home status) 2. no GCSE for UCAS applications....would love it if anyone has been in this situation and can help! 

I keep getting notices in my facebook stream about this lot https://www.crimsonglobalacademy.school/au/campaigns/cga-access-lp/?utm_source=p_social&utm_medium=fb_ig&utm_campaign=AU_cgahq_2021-09-23_ttt_conversion-rural-1_lead&utm_content=rural_access_ad4-Facebook_Desktop_Feed&utm_term=rural_age&fbclid=IwAR22Zw7SYe0PxJGzG-5Zwp17AbuLqpbprmgVwuglL6Armm2roxIq64b026I  They do homeschooling GCSEs, pretty expensive but may be an alternative if you are stuck (no affiliation or personal knowledge but there arent too many options to study GCSEs in Aus!).   I think I have heard of kids doing GCSE at the same time as their A levels or even after A levels and if they are prepared to do them over 3 years that would solve your international fees issue.

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It’s about residency in the U.K. for 3 years pre uni to be classed as a home student, so doing exams here won’t make a difference. Now is Year 2 of GCSE so exams are in June 2022. We have missed the entire 2 year course. The thing is that to apply for uni, UCAS requests GCSE results which we won’t have …

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And trying to do A levels and GCSEs at the same time might be a bit too hard…I was really seeing if anyone knew how the uni’s manage kids who come from overseas to do A levels that are British citizens returning to the U.K. 

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, aimee.s said:

It’s about residency in the U.K. for 3 years pre uni to be classed as a home student, so doing exams here won’t make a difference. Now is Year 2 of GCSE so exams are in June 2022. We have missed the entire 2 year course. The thing is that to apply for uni, UCAS requests GCSE results which we won’t have …

Could he do GCSEs in his gap year post A levels? I'd be talking to the school he will be attending and asking for their advice about the best way to go about solving the issue.  What year is he in in Aus? There may be some equivalence but now that most states dont have the year 10 assessment thing like they used to, that could be tricky. Or could you send him to a UK boarding school now maybe and then go into the first year of GCSEs so he will have missed only 3 months - then do A levels when you get home.

Edited by Quoll

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1 hour ago, aimee.s said:

It’s about residency in the U.K. for 3 years pre uni to be classed as a home student, so doing exams here won’t make a difference. Now is Year 2 of GCSE so exams are in June 2022. We have missed the entire 2 year course. The thing is that to apply for uni, UCAS requests GCSE results which we won’t have …

Hi Aimee

My understanding (but not expert) is that residency and GCSE results are separate things and that you don’t need GCSE results to prove residency (although these would logically seem to fit together). 

I agree with speaking to your future school as you won’t be the first family in this situation.  Our school advised re GCSE that only Maths and English was essential and to try and sit those the summer before starting A levels for convenience if he definitely goes back to the UK. They also stressed the other relevance of GCSEs is getting interviews for places like Oxbridge, but these can also be based on actual (rather than predicted) A levels, which would require the applicant takes a gap year. 
I would love to know the outcome when your sorted if you have time. 
Good luck with your move. 

 

 

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I've contacted the school to see if they have any advice. They hadn't mentioned anything about UCAS but I just happened to find it somewhere. He is starting year 11 next month and his cohort in the UK is a term into year 11. For him to do GCSE, he would have to drop back a full year so will be with younger kids, which he will not like, plus I am unsure if this is even possible. He will already have to do an extra year of school with A levels- he's not keen to move in the first place, so this will totally put him off! I'll see what the school says....

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3 hours ago, CornishDoc said:

Hi Aimee

My understanding (but not expert) is that residency and GCSE results are separate things and that you don’t need GCSE results to prove residency (although these would logically seem to fit together). 

I agree with speaking to your future school as you won’t be the first family in this situation.  Our school advised re GCSE that only Maths and English was essential and to try and sit those the summer before starting A levels for convenience if he definitely goes back to the UK. They also stressed the other relevance of GCSEs is getting interviews for places like Oxbridge, but these can also be based on actual (rather than predicted) A levels, which would require the applicant takes a gap year. 
I would love to know the outcome when your sorted if you have time. 
Good luck with your move. 

 

 

Yes it's not for residency, more for the UCAS uni application form where they ask for exam results and these are used for uni applications...I will see what the school suggests! Did you go back then or were you just assessing the situation? It would have been so much easier if not for COVID and then we would have started GCSE as planned...how did they suggest learning the UK maths and english courses and doing GCSE in just. few months? I am unsure if these are on the day only exams or if there is any coursework involved, which makes it a little harder to sit the exams...

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On 08/01/2022 at 16:25, aimee.s said:

It’s about in the U.K. for 3 years pre uni to be classed as a home student, so doing exams here won’t make . Now is Year 2 of GCSE so exams are in June 2022. We have missed the entire 2 year course. The thing is that to apply for uni, UCAS requests GCSE results which we won’t have …

Can't speak for the UCAS route but the majority of OS students applied directly to us or through their agents, we were set up to not care about GCSE as many nationalities don't do exams at 16 and there simply isn't a plethora of equivalents out there.  Nowhere in the UCAS application is there anything that says "No GCSE's then no go" - frankly people have all sorts of qualifications like BTECs , NVVQs, even O-Levels still pop up; you have the option of "other" and you can put in there Year 11 and the subjects.  In the Personal Statement make a big thing about how you experienced overseas education and the richness and diversity you saw etc and that will be of good standing with the assessors.  If in doubt then please talk to the universities themselves - UCAS is a centralised administration portal who don't actually make calls on admission - the universities may be able to put your mind at rest.

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