University fees in the UK – Scotland is going it alone. Advantage from the Republic – same as Scottish ie free

English students ‘to pay up to £36,000 to study in Scotland’
English students face paying up to £36,000 to attend Scottish universities, it emerged today, even though local undergraduates will study for free.

Tuition fees in Scotland will soar next year – but not for Scottish students. Photo: ALAMY

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor
4:39PM BST 29 Jun 2011


The Scottish Parliament said fees for students from the rest of the UK would soar five-fold next year to ensure its higher education institutions are not seen as the “cheap option”.

Top universities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews will be able to charge as much as to £9,000 a year, compared with existing fees of £1,800.

It means students face paying up to £36,000 for a standard four-year Scottish degree.

The disclosure prompted claims of an educational apartheid as Scottish students have their tuition fully subsidised by the taxpayer while classmates from England pay the full amount.

In a further twist, it emerged that students from European Union states – outside the UK – will also be entitled to free tuition under EU law.

The Conservatives branded the plans “vindictive” and warned that it would “stir up resentment in the rest of the UK against Scotland”.

It comes amid continuing anger that taxpayers in England are forced to pay for improvements to health care and education only available in other parts of the UK. One study suggested that public spending per head runs 22 per cent higher in Scotland than in England.

The National Union of Students accused Scotland of “erecting a new Hadrian’s Wall to prospective students from England”.

Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman, said that plans set out by Mike Russell, the Scottish education secretary, were bordering on the “illegal”.

“Mike Russell says he wants access to higher education to be based on the ability to learn, not on the ability to pay. It appears this does not apply to students from the rest of the UK,” she said.

“If Mike Russell’s plan is to stir up resentment in the rest of the UK against Scotland then he might well succeed. This measure is ill-thought out, vindictive and does nothing to address the long term funding pressures faced by the higher education sector in Scotland.”

Emma Boon, campaign manager for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s grossly unfair that The Scottish Government has decided that English students must pay top whack whilst their Scottish counterparts go free.

“English taxpayers money goes towards subsidising those fees and unequal shares will only breed contempt. A more equal system is needed so that English students don’t face an unfair burden.”

At the moment, Scottish students do not pay tuition fees, while those from elsewhere in the UK are charged £1,800.

From 2012, degrees for Scottish students will remain free, but universities will be able to charge between £1,800 and £9,000 to undergraduates from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish National Party claim fees would average out at £6,375.

English students are expected to pay the most as the Welsh Assembly has pledged to subsidise Welsh students, ensuring the individual pays no more than £3,000 a year. Northern Ireland is yet to announce its fees policy.

English universities have already announced plans to charge up to £9,000 a year.

EU students must be charged the same as “home” students in each country – meaning they go for free in Scotland but must pay up to £9,000 in England next year. But under a quirk of European law and the UK’s system of devolved Government, Scottish universities can charge students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland a higher fee because they are part of the same nation state.

But with standard degrees in Scotland taking four years – 12 months longer than the rest of the UK – it means undergraduate courses north of the border will be considerably more expensive.

Usman Ali, vice president of the National Union of Students, said: “It is incredibly short-sighted to deter students based in other parts of the UK from studying in Scotland with a hike in fees that will take tuition debt to unprecedented levels, going further even than what we’ve seen in England.

“This decision by the Scottish Executive risks erecting a new Hadrian’s Wall to prospective students from England who want the opportunity to study in Scottish universities but cannot face incurring tuition debts of £36,000.”
Mr Russell said: “Scotland has and always will welcome students from all over the world to our universities.

“However, the decisions being taken in England could threaten the quality and competitiveness of our universities.

“We cannot allow Scotland to no longer be the best option and instead be known as the cheap option – we also must protect places for Scottish students.”