The Education Exemption

The provision of education by the University to our students is exempt from VAT.  This is because the University is an “eligible body” for the purposes of the education exemption.

Education is not normally exempt from VAT when supplied by organisations that are not eligible bodies.  This means subsidiaries of the University may have to charge VAT when providing education.

HMRC regard education as meaning a course, class or lesson of instruction or study in any subject, whether or not normally taught in schools, colleges or universities and regardless of where and when it takes place.

Education includes lectures, educational seminars, conferences and symposia, together with holiday, sporting and recreational courses which involve tuition.  It also includes the provision of distance learning and associated materials.

Any vocational training provided by the University is also exempt from VAT.  This occurs where trainees attend courses, conferences, lectures, workshops or seminars and the purpose is to:

  • prepare for future employment
  • add to their knowledge to improve their performance in their current work

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When the University provides goods and services to its students, these are exempt from VAT if they are closely related to education. 

Closely related refers only to goods and services that are:

  • for the direct use of the student 
  • necessary for delivering the education to them

This includes any of the following:

  • accommodation
  • catering
  • transport
  • school trips
  • field trips

Closely related goods and services provided from one eligible body to another are also exempt from VAT providing they are for the direct use of the students/trainees of the purchasing body.

This can affect the University in two ways:

  1. When we are providing goods and services to another eligible body
    It is important to request evidence that our customer is also an eligible body and that they will be using the goods/services we are providing as part of an onward supply of education/vocational training.

    In these circumstances, you should ask your customer to complete this declaration:
    Customer Declaration Eligible Body (PDF)

  2. When we are purchasing goods and services from another eligible body

    The other eligible body may ask us to complete their own version of the eligible body declaration.  Alternatively, if they do not have their own declaration, you can complete the form below and send it to them.
    University’s declaration of exemption form (DOC)

The provision of teaching staff from one eligible body to another qualifies as a supply of education in its own right and is exempt from VAT.

The provision of staff for the purposes of catering and accommodation qualifies as closely related to education. It is therefore exempt where the recipient eligible body provides education for a charge.

If you are unsure whether closely related goods and services qualify for exemption, further guidance can be obtained from the Tax Team. 

The University is an “eligible body” for the purposes of the VAT education exemption.  

Sometimes we are able to treat certain goods and services provided to or purchased from other eligible bodies as exempt from VAT.  Therefore, it can be important to know if our customer or supplier is also an eligible body.

An eligible body includes the following:

  • UK school    
  • UK university, or any college, institution, school or hall of such a university     
  • UK Further or Higher Education college    
  • Government department, local authority or similar public body
  • A body which is not permitted to distribute its profits and applies any profits made from education/vocational training back to those activities.
  • A body teaching English as a foreign language

Contact Us

 : Finance Division
       University of Oxford
       23-38 Hythe Bridge Street
       Oxford OX1 2JD


  : 01865 (6) 16215


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