The Scottish government is exploring the viability of scrapping free tuition for EU students in an effort to save £93 million.
Following Brexit, Holyrood has recently published their “SPICe Briefing Brexit: Higher Education in Scotland” report. It is concerns how cutting ties with the European Union (EU) might affect Scottish higher education and what the response to the potential mandate would be. Scotland currently has a higher percentage of EU students than anywhere else in the UK.
There have been mixed views on the proposal, with MSP Ross Thomson declaring that cutting free tuition for EU students could bring “opportunities” for Scottish universities.
The report explores various potential outcomes of Britain leaving the EU, given that no fixed plans have been established as to how Brexit would affect students and higher education institutes (HEI). It investigates the potential negative effects of the action, including the reduction of diversity in HEIs and a lack of either funding or a control over funding from the EU.
However, this contrasts with the apparent lack of impact Brexit has had on applications to English HEI’s which charge £9,000 per annum. The Telegraph reported that applications increased by 11% in August of this year.
Due to concerns over the future of the Erasmus programme, the NUS is calling for “negotiations on exiting the UK to include consideration of how to ensure the UK maintains access to the Erasmus programme”.
The Scottish government has agreed to continue as usual in 2017. The government’s report states that “the implications for Scottish HEIs remain unclear”.
The University of Glasgow website states that, owing to a lack of clarity “we will keep you up to date if there should be any changes in policy that may affect you.”
A spokesperson for the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association (GUSNA) stated: “[We] wholeheartedly sympathise with and share the feelings of uncertainty many students and prospective students are facing now. The result of the Brexit vote has made many talented people from continental Europe feel unwanted in the UK, and the financial uncertainty of not knowing whether tuition will remain free is obviously not helping either. As for GUSNA: our position is that tuition should be free for all regardless of the student’s place of birth. We welcome the Scottish government’s push for the UK government to reintroduce a post-study work visa for Scotland, and we will continue to campaign for tuition to be free for all.”