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Scotland to continue free EU student fees

The Scottish government has guaranteed that that EU students will continue to access university courses free of tuition fees in the 2020/21 academic year – in a bid to provide clarity to students, staff and institutions.

The Scottish government announcement seeks to provide clarity for the 2020/21 academic year. Photo: pixabay

More than 21,000 students in Scotland were from the EU in 2016-17

Scottish MPs committed to funding for 2019/20 in 2018, and the latest announcement means that EU students will continue to have the option of accessing financial support during their studies in the country.

“Brexit uncertainty continues to loom large over universities”

“Scotland is an open and welcoming country with world-leading further and higher education institutions and we value the contribution that EU nationals make to our campuses,” said Further and Higher Education minister Richard Lochhead.

“Brexit remains the greatest threat facing our colleges and universities and I hope that, in a time of uncertainty, this announcement will provide the clarity that our academic institutions need to plan for the 2020/21 academic year,” he added while encouraging more students to choose Scotland as a study destination.

International students make “huge social, cultural and economic contributions,” said NUS Scotland president Liam McCabe.

“It’s right that the Scottish government takes steps to ensure Scotland remains an attractive, welcoming place to study with opportunities for students across the world,” he said.

The announcement provides “much-needed certainty” for potential students and for institutions, convener of Universities Scotland and principal of Edinburgh Napier University Andrea Nolan said.

“Brexit uncertainty continues to loom large over universities so the fact that the Scottish Government has acted decisively in the midst of that speaks volumes about Scotland’s values and our desire to remain open and welcoming to the rest of the world,” Nolan explained.

Since last year’s guarantee, Universities Scotland Convener has warned that Brexit may threaten the level of students from Europe at Scotland’s universities.

Of the total 242,000 students enrolled in Scottish HEIs in  2016-17, more than 21,000 came from the EU.

Martin Fairbairn, chief operating officer at the Scottish Funding Council, noted that the news would help to “safeguard the diversity that has helped create Scotland’s international reputation for learning, research and innovation”.

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