Bargain basement 1

February 6, 2004

An apparently unnoticed spanner in the higher education bill (Opinion, THES , January 30) is that European Union directives require the UK to offer higher education places to non-UK EU citizens on the same terms as UK citizens. The removal of upfront fees will make studying in the UK a bargain, especially with English as the most popular second language.

So the government will indeed be spending more money, but not on UK citizens. People in the ten states joining the EU on May 1 will be keen to accept this kind offer. Few of the students returning to Poland, for example, after a course, will ever repay any money to the UK taxpayer because of lower wage levels there.

The UK and Ireland are alone among the current 15 EU members not to have sought waivers of up to seven years, allowed under the accession treaty, to stop those from the accession countries immediately claiming automatic rights to live, work and claim benefits.

David Scott

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