The Council Tax is set by local Councils to pay for local services. There is one bill per dwelling (whether it is owned or rented) which is normally payable by the owner-occupier(s) or tenant(s).
Exemption from paying the Council Tax
Students who are exempt:
- Students enrolled a on full-time Programme of Study.
- A full-time Programme of Study is defined as requiring students to attend for at least 24 weeks in each academic year and which requires on average at least 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience in each of those weeks (The Council Tax (Discount) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2011).
- This can include full-time students studying by distance learning, and on placements.
- To be defined as a student you must also be fully matriculated and be recorded as such on the University’s central student record system.
- Full-time students interrupting their studies or studying as "exam only" continue to be exempt as long as they continue to be enrolled on a full-time Programme of Study.
- Full-time Research students i.e. MSc(R), PhD, M.Litt, MPhil, (and other “Higher Degrees”) are exempt from paying council tax during their formal maximum period of study the duration of which is determined by the Degree Regulations.
- The maximum period of study consists of the prescribed period of study (e.g. 12 months for a MSC(R), 36 months for a full-time PhD, 24 months for a full-time MPhil) and the subsequent writing up period (12 months)*. This is inclusive of any periods of interruption**.
- Students who were full-time during their prescribed period of study are not automatically exempt for a period greater than the maximum period of study i.e. if an extension is granted***.
- An extension of less than 24 weeks in any given year of study † is not exempt from council tax (irrespective if the extension is studied full-time).
- An extension of more than 24 weeks, in any given year of study, can be exempt ‡ if confirmation is received from the School that the student is required to undertake academic study towards completion of their thesis of > 21 hours per week over the period of the extension. In these cases confirmation from a relevant member of staff in the School on headed paper should accompany any request for a council tax exemption certificate.
- A student is not exempt once a thesis is submitted.
- *“A student must submit his or her thesis within 12 months of the completion of their prescribed period of study” [Postgraduate Assessment Regulations for Research Degrees Reg. 15]
- **“Any one period of authorised interruption of study will not exceed one year and the total period of authorised interruption of study will not exceed 100% of the prescribed period of study” [Postgraduate Degree Programme Regulation 28]
- ***“The College may extend a student's period of registration by up to two years. Extensions beyond this time are not permitted” [Postgraduate Degree Programme Regulation 29]
- †A year of study for Research Students is taken from their start date with any periods of interruption taken into account.
- ‡As from Academic Session 2013/14
Properties which may be exempt
- Hall of Residence (including Student Houses). If you live in a hall or residence you will not have to prove your student status.
- where all the residents in the property are full-time students.
- where some other person (e.g. a parent, as owner occupier) is liable for the bill. The non-student(s) are solely liable for the Council Tax.
A student living elsewhere than in a Hall of Residence may be asked by the Council to prove his/her student status (e.g. in order to prove that a student flat is entitled to exemption).
You are not automatically exempt from council tax: you must register exemption with the Council yourself.
Students who are NOT exempt:
- Part-Time students. If your method of study is recorded as part-time, then in the opinion of the University, your studies do not require on average 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience in at least 24 weeks in each academic session. You are not eligible for exemption, even if you choose to study more than 21 hours per week whilst registered on a part-time programme.
Registering Exemption with councils
Students living in Edinburgh or Midlothian
Registry will provide the City of Edinburgh Council and Midlothian Council with a list of full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students who are resident within these areas. The information contained in the listing will comply with the Data Protection Act. Students are given an opportunity to opt out of this list by ticking a box on the back of their matriculation form. The Council will use a student list from Registry to verify your status as a matriculated student at the University.
The Council does not automatically grant exemption to a student based on the list alone: you must specifically ask for exemption, from the Council directly. Advise on how to apply for exemption is available on the Councils’ websites:
You will be asked by the Council to provide the following information: Name, Matriculation Number, your Term Time Address, the Date you moved in, your previous address, Name of University, Start and End Date of Programme of Study.
Please note that students do not have to complete a Confirmation of Student Status Form sent out by Edinburgh Council if they have agreed at matriculation that Registry can include them on the list sent to the City of Edinburgh Council.
The council may ask for you to provide a Certificate of Student Status. If they do you can obtain one from the Academic Registry (see below).
Please note that the Council will only accept as valid documentation issued by Registry. Documents or letters provided by other departments or staff in the University will not be accepted.
Students living outwith Edinburgh and Midlothian
Full-time students living outside of the City of Edinburgh area can request a Certificate of Student Status from the Registry to accompany any form issued by a Local Council.
Request for Evidence of Student Status (Certificate of Student Status)
A Certificate of Student Status should be used if your council asks you for proof that you are a full-time student at the University of Edinburgh. The Council may give form for the University to complete however we issue a Certificate of Student Status which the Council should accept instead.
The Academic Registry can provide a Certificate of Student Status to any individual student (and ex-students up to one year after studies have ceased). This certificate will include your address details and the dates you commenced your studies and are expected to finish your studies. Certificates will only be produced if a student is fully matriculated.
Certificates will be posted to eligible students (to term time address only) within 14 working days of the request being received (21 days during September). Those who are eligible for exemption for only a part of the period of their studies will instead be provided with a letter detailing the periods of eligibility.
If you need to update your term time address please e-mail Registry.
Because of the personal nature of the information the certificate contains, certificates can only be requested by the student concerned and not by third parties (e.g. flatmates, landlords).
Further Sources of information
This article was published on Oct 28, 2013