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03/02/17 13:33

Scotland is top of Erasmus class

Scottish Universities continue to welcome students from Europe despite threat from Brexit.

Scotland’s place as a destination of choice for EU students to undertake higher education is threatened by the hard Brexit model outlined by the UK Government, Higher Education Minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville said today.

Welcoming students taking part in the Erasmus programme at an event at Glasgow Caledonian University, Ms Somerville restated the Scottish Government’s commitment to the free movement of people as she highlighted UCAS figures that suggest the prospect of Scotland being forced to leave the EU and the single market is already starting to hit applications to Scottish universities.

Ms Somerville said:

“Scotland has a thriving higher education sector and our student collaborations across Europe and the world are second to none.  We have the highest percentage of international and EU combined university students of the four UK nations with 21.6% in 2015-16 . We are very proud of this and we will work hard to ensure it continues.

“However the hard Brexit model being outlined by the UK Government puts much of this at risk. I believe that the EU referendum result in Scotland recognised the social, economic and cultural benefits of EU membership for the country and for individuals, including staff and students at our universities. But there are worrying signs that the uncertainty being caused by Brexit is making Scotland a less attractive option for EU students.”

“We are deeply concerned by the latest UCAS statistics that show a reduction in applicants from the EU to UK higher education institutions. While we take some comfort from the fact that the drop is lower in Scotland - 4% compared with 7% in England - these new figures offer just one more indication of the damage being done by the decision to leave the EU.

“Encouragingly, the UCAS stats also show that the number of applicants to Scotland’s universities from outside of the EU are up 4% this year compared to last. The fact that more than a fifth of our students come from outside the UK is a huge compliment to Scotland - it demonstrates that our universities really are world-class. But it isn’t simply that international students choose Scotland as a result of our universities being excellent, they are one of the reasons why our universities are excellent.

 “We are very proud of our tradition for excellence in education, and also of our deep-seated sense of internationalism. So I want every student who has come from outside Scotland – from the EU or further afield - to study here to know that they are very much welcome. EU and international students are welcome in Scotland.”