What is council tax?
Council tax is a local tax on residential property. There are certain exemptions from paying the tax which are based on the type of people who live in the property. Council Tax is the way in which local Councils in England and Wales fund the services and facilities they provide.
All the households within the Council's district should register with the Council for Council Tax purposes and each household will receive a Council Tax bill from the Council. In simple terms, the bill is calculated partly on the value of the property and partly on the number and type of occupants living in the property.
A property is exempt from council tax if it is wholly occupied by full-time university or college students. Student halls of residence are automatically exempt. If you do get a bill, you can apply for an exemption.
The Council Tax year runs from 1 April in one year to 31 March in the following year (e.g. 1st April 2014 to 31st March 2015). Our Council Tax Exemption Certificates are only valid for this period but we will send you a new one every academic year you are in full-time study.
Further information can be found at the GOV.UK website or visit the National Union of Students’ (NUS).
Proof of student status for Council Tax exemption
All undergraduate students, registered with the University as full-time, on a three year or four year (Sandwich) course will be automatically issued with an letter as proof of student status, which can be supplied to local Councils to assess your eligibility for Council Tax exemption. The letter will be sent to your Unimail account when your enrolment is confirmed for the academic year. You can print it off, or send it to your local Council as needed.
This letter is valid for the academic year only and not a guarantee of Council Tax exemption. Exemption is assessed and issued at the discretion of local Council authorities. University of Derby cannot in any way influence their final decision. The University notion of full-time study is based on the number of credits you are studying in an academic year. You must declare any additional information regarding your household and meet the exemption and discount criteria determined by your local authority and government when you apply for exemption. See sections below on Apprentice/Associate and Sponsored students.
What information is on the letter?
The letter will show your name, date of birth, as well as your home and term time address. It will also show the course you are studying, your stage of study, your start date, and the date that we’d expect you to complete your course.
Part-Time and Postgraduate Students
If you are a part-time student or a postgraduate student, then you may be eligible to receive a proportion of council tax exemption if you are studying at least 21 hours per week or the equivalent of at least 80 academic credits in the academic year. This will be for the Council to assess. We do not automatically provide letters of proof of student status to part-time or postgraduate students, but you can request one here.
People on apprentice schemes
The University will not normally provide letters of proof of student status which can be used to assess your eligibility for Council Tax exemption. You would normally be in full time employment, and sponsored by your employer. There is guidance at www.gov.uk/council-tax/who-has-to-pay on exemption for Apprentices. Your local authority would determine whether you were eligible for Council Tax exemption or discount using the following criteria:
- you are employed to learn a trade, a business, a profession or a vocation
- you are receiving training leading to a qualification accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority
- you get a salary or allowance (or both), which are in total less than £195 gross a week (before deductions, not counting bonuses and overtime)
- you can expect to earn substantially more when you have qualified
Local Authorities may have an additional form that they expect you to complete, and would normally expect you to provide a wage slip and other information.
If you are a research student at the University of Derby, you should contact the Research Office to discuss council tax exemption. The Research Office are the team that can produce your letter.
University of Derby Online (UDOL) Students
Online students are classed as part-time students regardless of the amount of academic credit being studied in an academic year. You may be eligible to receive Council Tax exemption if you are studying the amount of credits equivalent to a full-time, on campus student (100-120 credits), but exemption would be at the discretion of your local Council. If your local Council informs you that you can qualify for exemption, please contact your OnLine Learning Advisor and they will be able to produce a letter for you.
International students (EU and Overseas) who are in full-time study can request a proof of student status for Council Tax exemption letter from the International Student Centre by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students sponsored by employers
If you are sponsored by your employer (and your employer is paying your tuition fees), you would not normally be entitled to Council Tax exemption as you are in full-time employment. We could provide a proof of student status letter, but not a Council Tax Exemption letter. You can request a proof of student status letter here. It would then be between you and your Local Authority whether they consider you eligible for any Council Tax discount.
What happens if you withdraw from the University or take an authorised break from study (ABS)?
You're a student from the day you begin your course until the day you complete it, abandon it or are no longer permitted by your educational institution to attend it.
If you take an authorised break from study, you are still classed as a student for Council Tax exemption purposes, providing you intend to return to study at a later date within the time period for your course. If you don't return to study, the local Council authority may consider that you owe Council Tax from the date your authorised break began.
If you withdraw, or are withdrawn from your course, you will no longer be classed as a student and will be liable for Council Tax from the date of your withdrawal. If that withdrawal is backdated, then the date of your eligibility to be exempt from Council Tax would also change and a local Council authority may chase you for back payment.
In either case, it is your responsibility to let your local Council Authority know that you have withdrawn from the University. We do not do this for you.
Students between courses
If you have finished one course and are waiting to start another, you may have to pay Council Tax for the period between the 2 courses, even if that's over a University vacation/non teaching period. For example, if you've finished a HND, and are enrolling on a Top Up degree the next academic year, you will not be classed as a full time student for the period between the 2 courses.
If you're living with someone who isn't a full-time student
If you live with someone who isn't a full time student, the property will not be exempt from Council Tax, and a bill will be issued. But, whoever is liable to pay the Council Tax might qualify for a discount. This will be for the local Council Authority to assess.