Unlike in the rest of the UK, higher education in Scotland is free for local students. However, Scotland says it is losing around £75 million a year due to an EU law which states member countries must charge students from elsewhere in the EU the same fees they charge to domicile students.
Education Secretary Mike Russell wants to introduce a “management fee” for non-UK EU students
Education Secretary Mike Russell said he wanted to introduce a “management fee” for non-UK EU students to regain some of the cash lost.
“The Scottish government has been looking into the issue of charging a management fee to EU students for over a year now and we are broadly supportive of that,” a spokesman for Universities Scotland told The PIE News. “We think Scotland should be a destination to study based on the quality of education we provide not because it’s free.”
“The Scottish government is losing around £75 million a year on EU tuition”
Complicating the matter, students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who are excluded from the free scheme, are thought to be taking advantage of a legal loophole which deems them eligible based on nationality not residency.
There have been reports of Northern Irish students claiming Irish Republic roots to skirt full fees which last year rose to as much as £9,000 in the UK. In February, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) reported a 6% increase in EU applications to Scottish institutions and an 11.2% drop at British universities which could be due to the rise in fees.
Under the proposed plan, Scottish students would be charged fees before getting a grant to meet the full cost. The Scottish government would then be able to charge EU students the same fees.
According to Scotland on Sunday, EU sources have told the Scottish National Party government that offering reimbursement grants is the only way they can “get away with” charging European students while preserving zero fees for home students.
“It’s purely speculation at this stage,” said the Universities Scotland spokesman. “We haven’t heard of any confirmed plans from the Scottish Government to charge management fees to both Scottish and EU students but they are looking at ways of managing this loophole.”