This means the current funding and fees arrangements for EU students will stay in place, regardless of whether the UK leaves the union before students finish their studies. At the moment, Scottish and EU students don’t pay tuition fees at public higher education institutions.
“I demand that the government guarantee their right to stay here during and work here after their studies”
The announcement follows confirmation from Universities Minister Jo Johnson and from Student Finance Wales that EU students beginning their studies at universities and colleges in England and Wales in 2017 will have access to student loan and grant funding.
“We have already confirmed tuition fee funding to support EU students studying here, or preparing to start this year,” announced Education Secretary and Deputy First Minister John Swinney. “Now, we will extend that guarantee to those starting next year in 2017/18.”
The Scottish government has also called on the UK government to guarantee to reintroduce a post-study work visa.
“What I demand is that the Tory-Brexit government guarantee their right to stay here during their studies and work here after their studies,” Swinney said.
“They are not cards to be played. They are human beings.
“To use them as negotiating chips is obscene and this party and this government will have no part of it.”
The announcement comes as welcome news to higher education stakeholders in Scotland, which, following Johnson’s confirmation of funding for EU students in England last week, called for its government to issue a similar guarantee.
“Until now neither [EU students], nor universities, have had any certainty on their funding status if the UK exits the EU during their degree,” said Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland.