If you are a (close family member of a) EU national, you pay the reduced 'home' fee at Universities in England. There are residency requirements that you have not lived outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland in the three years before your course starts but there are no residency requirements for the UK.
If you are the child of a Swiss national, you also pay the reduced 'home' fee but you have to fulfil the above prior residency requirement AS WELL AS being resident in the United Kingdom on the first academic day of the first academic year of your course. For all courses beginning between August and December, this is universally defined as September 1.
The situation is thus that if an EU national and a child of a Swiss national both start a course in mid-October, the child of a Swiss national has to take up residence in the UK already on or before September 1, wheras the EU national can just arrive on the day his course actually starts.
The exactly same provision applies in terms of eligibility for student loans.
Such discrimination is unnecessary and unfair – EU and Swiss students should be treated similarly, otherwise the spirit of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between the EU and Switzerland is violated.
Source: http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/student/info_sheets/tuition_fees_ewni.php and http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/uksi_20091555_en_18 (clauses 9 versus 11)
Why is this idea important?
Due to the above restriction, Swiss students are discriminated against. They may be deterred from coming to the United Kingdom to study. The value of international students to the UK economy is, however, obvious.
It is clear from the spirit of the regulations that Swiss students are meant to be treated equally to EU students, receiving the 'home' fee in principle (other than e.g. US or Chinese students). Thus, this artificial restriction of UK residency requirements should be removed completely and the clause should be similarly worded to the EU nationals clause.