Richard Lochhead, the minister for further education, higher education and science, said the move was a direct result of Scotland being forced out the EU, adding that should Scotland rejoin, the government would revert to paying tuition fees for EU students.
Under previous arrangements tuition fees in Scotland were fully subsidised by the Scottish government for all EU students except for those from elsewhere in the UK.
“We have taken the difficult decision to end free education for new EU students”
“It is with a heavy heart that we have taken the difficult decision to end free education for new EU students from the academic year 2021/22 onwards as a consequence of Brexit,” said Lochhead.
“EU students who have already started their studies, or who start this autumn, will not be affected and will still be tuition free for the entirety of their course.”
According to the latest data from HESA, 21,505 EU students studied in Scotland in 2018/19.
The government further confirmed that the money would be reallocated elsewhere in the sector and could total up to £19m next year alone.
“Our colleges and universities deserve the utmost support because they are a vital part of the solution to the Covid-19 crisis,” continued Lochhead.
“They are one of the foundations on which our country will build the economic recovery to come. And we are determined to place them at the centre of our economic strategy.”
The president of NUS Scotland, Matt Crilly, called the announcement “bitterly disappointing”.
However, he added that NUS Scotland welcomes “the clarity from the Scottish government that funding… will remain within the college and university sectors” and looks forward to “discussing the development of scholarships for EU and international students”.
“The enormous financial impact facing Scottish colleges and universities as a result of Covid-19 underscores just how reliant they have become on fee-paying students,” he continued.
“In the immediate term, we need to see a bespoke package of support from the Scottish and UK governments.”
Following the earlier confirmation that EU students in England will lose home fees status, a survey suggested as many as 84% of EU students would not study in the UK if they had to pay international fees.