If you study a course at an equivalent or lower level to an award you currently hold, you may be charged higher fees. Learn more below.

An Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) is a course at the same level or below an award you already hold. For example, if you hold a master's degree, a further bachelor or master's course would be an ELQ.

To study an ELQ, you may face a higher fee than the published rates. This is because the UK government has ceased funding for this category of students.

The decision applies to Home and EU students, with no limit on when or where your previous qualifications were gained (including overseas).

Exemptions from ELQ

Some courses are exempt from higher fees. These include:

  • Foundation degrees
  • Full-time courses leading to registration as an architect / landscape architect
  • Courses supported by NHS bursaries
  • Courses leading to initial teacher training.

Most integrated Master's courses (e.g. MChem, MMath) are classed as postgraduate for the purposes of ELQ. If you hold a bachelor's degree, you will not be considered to hold an equivalent qualification. However, the MPharm is classed as undergraduate for the purposes of ELQ.

Students in receipt of a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) from UK Government Student Support Funding are also exempt from the ELQ policy.

Students studying a Strategically Important and Vulnerable Subject (SIVS) are not exempt from ELQ but may not face higher fees due to the way these courses are funded.

If you are concerned about your status to study our courses, seek advice from our Enquiry Unit about which courses are affected and the options available.

Student financial support

If you are classed as studying an ELQ, you may not be eligible for elements of student support such as undergraduate tuition fee loans or postgraduate loans.

Eligible students starting certain part-time courses in Engineering, Computing Sciences and Technology may apply for part-time student support from Student Finance England. 

The rules are complex and you should contact Student Finance England or your Student Support provider for more information.