Skip to main content

09/07/20 18:22

Update on HE and FE support

New EU students to start paying for Scottish places from 2021/22

EU students will have to pay tuition fees from 2021/22, Richard Lochhead has today confirmed.

Making the announcement to the Scottish Parliament, the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science said that the decision was a direct result of Scotland being forced out the EU.

He pledged to keep the funding that currently supports EU places within the higher education sector and that the number of university places for students from Scotland would rise as a result. Should Scotland re-join the EU, the Scottish Government would return to paying is tuition fees for EU students.

The parliamentary statement detailed the Scottish Government’s sustainability plan for colleges and universities in light of coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes a new £5 million fund that will help colleges and universities tackle digital exclusion by providing additional support for Scotland’s most disadvantaged students including providing the digital devices they need to access learning.

The new funding is in addition to a range of support for colleges and universities which includes £75 million to protect world-leading university research, £10 million for estates development, and early access to £11.4m of Higher Education Hardship Funds.

Mr Lochhead paid tribute to the “remarkable pace” at which Scotland’s colleges and universities reacted to the pandemic, despite the unprecedented demands put on the sector.

The sustainability plan highlights work on campus opening, outcomes and targets, funding, international students and also extra support for research activity across both sectors, in light of COVID-19.

He added that Scotland’s institutions remain world class, welcoming, open, and safe with measures set out in recently announced guidance, and with today’s new UCAS figures showing a 16% increase in the number of non-EU applications to our universities - the highest in the UK – that was an encouraging sign this strong message is getting through.

Updating Parliament on the impact of Brexit, Mr Lochhead said that without any clear UK Government commitment to continued participation in the Erasmus EU mobility programme it was looking increasingly likely that the programme might be abandoned – and he called again for clarity on the UK Government’s intentions regarding the Horizon EU research collaboration programme.

Mr Lochhead said:

“As a result of EU law, since this government abolished tuition fees, we have treated EU students in the same way we treat students from Scotland. They do not pay tuition fees.

“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.

“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.

“As a consequence of the decision we have taken on EU students we must also decide what happens to the funding that currently supports those places. I can confirm that we will not remove the funding we currently devote to paying EU student fees from the overall funding for the sector. On current trends and following further analysis, we estimate this could be up to £19m for 21/22.

“Our colleges and universities deserve the utmost support, because they are a vital part of the solution to the COVID-19 crisis. 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.

“That’s one key reason why I asked the Scottish Funding Council to lead a review of provision and financial sustainability to ensure that they are able to play that role. The review will shape an important part of the Government’s thinking on our future strategy for college and universities in Scotland.

“But while colleges and universities have demonstrated responsiveness and flexibility during COVID-19, the fact remains our further and higher education sector has been badly hit by the pandemic. This places a financial burden on many institutions with a loss of income inevitable. Of course, this is not just a Scottish or UK problem, this is a global problem.

“I have therefore today published a summary of our immediate support for our institutions and how we are looking towards what may be needed in the future.

“Rest assured, our colleges and universities will be open for business after the summer. Students from Scotland, the rest of the UK and overseas can be confident of receiving the benefits of an excellent Scottish education. And as the First Minister said in her message to international students this week, our prime focus will also be their safety.”

Background:

The full text of Minister's statement

You can read the full Further and Higher Education Sustainability Plan, here

The recently published recommendations of the Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery – which is led by Benny Higgins, highlighted the importance of both higher and further institutions as anchor organisations in communities. 

Full information on the guidance: