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Repeat Part Time Student facing issues regarding council tax

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I'm currently in my second year of study at the university of winchester and unfortunately due to failing a double module. I am having to resit my double module on a part time basis. I have recently (well in the past month of two) found out that students who repeat a module and who plan to return to full time study are exempt from council tax. now when I went to the council tax office regarding the issue they state that a part time student is someone who does under 12 hours of study and that's there legistation on the matter. So I have also gone to my finance department at the university of winchester and it looks like there saying the same thing on the matter. Even though I have shown the both this letter and no one seems prepared to do anything about it which is really unfair when I have proof that I shouldn't be getting charged.


Any help would be greatfully recieved.


Many Thanks



Dear Steve Earl


I refer to your email and the student certificate provided.


In light of the information provided you do qualify to be disregarded as a full time student for council tax purposes. I have awarded a student exemption and a revised bill for zero will follow shortly.


I am sorry for the inconvenience you have been caused, If you have nay further queries then please contact me.


Yours sincerely


Mrs Lesley Thompson

Taxation Officer

Winchester City Council

Colebrook Street


SO23 9LJ

T 01962 848 288

F 01962 841 365




From: counciltax

Sent: 19 December 2011 12:30

To: David McConville

Subject: FW: Council Tax




From: Steven Earl [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: 16 December 2011 18:50

To: counciltax

Subject: Council Tax


Dear Winchester City Council


I'm writing to you regarding the issue of council tax that has affected me. I am a full time student registered on a full time course and I have failed one of my modules. It is because of this that I am being classed as a part time student which doesn't seem to be correct. Firstly repeating modules shouldn't class me as a part time student because I am still enrolled on a full time course.


Secondly I bring your attention to this document that I have found online which continues to back up the fact that I am indeed a full time student.


A student undertaking a period of part-time repeat study within a full-time course should be regarded as a student for council tax purposes by virtue of the definition of “student” as provided by article 4, paragraph 3 and 4 of Schedule 1 to the Council Tax (Discount Disregards) Order 1992, as amended by the Council Tax (Discount Disregards) Order 1996. Article 4 provides that “student” means a person who is to be regarded as (among other things) a person undertaking a full-time course of education, as according to paragraph 3 and 4 of Schedule 1 to the Order.


Paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 to the Council Tax (Discount Disregards) Order 1992 defines full-time study thus:

A full time course of education is… one (a) which subsists of at least one academic year of the educational establishments concerned or, in the case of an educational establishment which does not have academic years, for at least one calendar year, (b) which persons undertaking it are normally required by the educational establishment concerned to attend (whether at premises of the establishment or otherwise) for periods of at least 24 weeks in each academic year or calendar year… during which it subsists, and © the nature of which is such that a person undertaking it would normally require to undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience which together amount in each such academic year to an average of 21 hours a week during the periods of attendance mentioned in… (b)… in the year.

The argument that the period and length of attendance required (24 weeks and 21 hours) mean that part-time repeaters do not fall into the definition of student is a simplistic reading of the above: the key word in paragraph 4 is ‘normally’.


Paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the above Order (as amended by the subsequent Order of 1996) states that a person is to be regarded as undertaking a full-time course of education on a particular day if:

(a) on that day he is enrolled for the purpose of attending such a course with [a university] and (b) the day falls within the period beginning with the day on which he begins the course and ending with the day on which he ceases to undertake it, and a person is to be regarded as ceasing to undertake a course of education for the purpose of this paragraph if he has completed it, abandoned it or is no longer permitted by the educational establishment to attend it.


As a part-time repeater you have not completed your course, and nor have you abandoned it or in any way been prevented by the uni from attending, it follows that you are still undertaking a full time course of education. Indeed, the explanatory note to paragraph 3(b) of Schedule 1 (as given in the amended form above) states that “the amendment… enables students to qualify even during a period where they are not attending the course”.


Finally, in 1996 the Department of the Environment stated in a Council Tax information letter than in their view, “a period of intercalation will remain within the period of a course... and therefore, provided that the person remains enrolled at the educational establishment, they will continue to fall within the definition of a full-time student."


Not only this but it doesn't seem right that Council Tax Benefit sees me as a full time student which doesn't make a lot of sense to me why council tax doesn't see me as a full time student. Being charged council tax and not being able to get any benefit to help pay it hardly seems fair. As well as this I have also been regarded as a full time student by student finance, the job centre which again makes me wonder why the council sees me as a part time student because I'm repeating modules where as these other organisations see me as a full-time student.


(P.S I have today handed in a form indicating my full time status and am hoping this resolves the issue)


Many Thanks




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15:39 (7 hours ago)


to 'revomutharock






Dear Steve Earl


Re: Full Time Student Status


I refer to my email below and apologise for the information previously supplied.


My decision has been overturned by my manager for the following reasons:


The paragraphs of the legislation referred to are two part - one that they have to be enrolled on a full time course of education and there is no dispute with that and the other is the interpretation of the word “normally”.


It is considered that the part time hours you are doing would not full into this category and this is borne out by a VT decision on 13.10.11, which needed to consider hours of study, and says “in relation to undertaking periods of study averaging 21 hours per week, the Panel finds the appellant does not fulfil the statutory requirement and therefore does not fall to be disregarded as a student for the purposes of the discount. The Panel notes that before and after the regulations were amended it remains the case that a person is “normally required” to undertake periods of study etc, that amount to an average of 21 hours per week. In the Panel’s mind, this conveys some sort of mandatory requirement usually applied by the educational establishment in respect of study time.”


There is also a High Court case, which dealt with an appeal about the attendance aspect of a course, but in the final summing up says “It is not surprising that Parliament wished to provide that people attending a course should be required to carry out a minimum of weekly study or work. Otherwise, it might be possible for a person to attend a course for many years and thus claim exemption from council tax, while exhibiting very little commitment to the course.”


As you are only retaking one module you do not meet the required hours of study. You have the right to appeal this decision and this should be by writing or emailing to the Local Taxes Section,[email protected], giving your reasons for appeal in the light of this response. Please ensure you clearly head your letter or email to indicate that it is an appeal. If you appeal the Council has 2 months to respond.


To anyone interested in my case I received a reply from Winchester City Council in which I cited a valuation tribunal case similar to that of my own.


Please quote reference number 56286290/56357216 when contacting this Department.


5 April 2011



Dear Mr Earl


Appeal Against Refusal of Council Tax Student Exemption


I refer to your letters regarding the above.


This matter has been given extensive consideration by the Council Tax Team, including senior managers and consultation has taken place with other authorities.


You are applying for this exemption based on the legislation stating that you must be enrolled on a full time course of education and the course normally consists of attendance/study/tuition of a minimum 21 hours per week, 24 weeks of an academic or calendar year. The Council does not dispute that you are enrolled on a full time course. However, from your correspondence you would appear to interpret the other criteria as providing the course normally consists of these hours/weeks, it doesn’t matter how few you actually do. The Council does not take this view, it believes you should have to do this minimum number of hours and weeks to qualify as full time.


You have also referred to yourself as an intercalating student, but this is not the case as you do attend university, intercalating students do not.


There are, as you have become aware, various Valuation Tribunal decisions in different locations and one Tribunal’s decision is not binding on another. Only a High Court case would fix the decision for all Local Authorities and I am afraid there has never been a relevant case taken to the High Court.


The Council therefore abides by it’s original decision that it does not consider you to be a full time student this academic year.


Now that your account at May Tree Close has been closed your liability to the Council is as follows:


Account 5628629 22 Sparkford Close £657.82

Account 56357216 7 May Tree Close £36.90


I am aware that the anomaly in legislation between Benefits and Council Tax puts you in a difficult position and it may be you have decided to return home because of this. I am happy to hold recovery action on your debts to the Council to give you extended time to pay, as I do not wish to burden you with additional costs, but I do want to put in place a payment plan so that you are making regular payments.


You may, however, decide to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal and if the Valuation Tribunal upholds your appeal the Council will, of course, cancel the charges. Your appeal must be in writing and made within 2 months of this letter.


I know you have been given this information before, but I am giving the Tribunal details below for your use:


Valuation Tribunal

2nd Floor, Black Lion House,

45 Whitechapel Road


E1 1DU


Telephone: 0207247 3898



Once you have considered your options please let me know what you intend to do so that I can deal with your account accordingly.




Yours sincerely



Mrs J Gosling

Taxation Team Leader

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You've had quite a comprehensive reply from the council, as stated your only option is to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. You'll have to demonstrate that your normally required to undertake the required number of weeks/hours.


The information you've been given regarding part-time students doesn't seem right, the regulations state you need to do on average more than 12 hours a week for at least 3 months. But must be aged under 20 years old.


Good luck!

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