THES reporters look at the distortions caused by the student finance system.
The National Union of Students Scotland is stepping up its campaign for fees to be axed and grants reinstated across the United Kingdom, following a slump in Scottish applications to English universities.
Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show Scottish applications to England are down by 13 per cent. Scots applications to Wales and Northern Ireland have also fallen, while there is a 5 per cent rise in applications to Scottish institutions.
NUS Scotland says this is evidence of the deterrent effect of tuition fees, which were abolished for Scottish students. From the autumn, Scots from low-income families at Scottish institutions will also have access to bursaries.
Mandy Telford, president of NUS Scotland, said: "Scottish students have been prevented from studying outside Scotland because of the cost of tuition fees and the lack of bursaries. We are urging the Scottish Executive to provide bursaries to students wherever they study in the UK."
She said the union would intensify its campaign to ensure that fees were scrapped and grants returned for UK students in Scotland and Scottish students in the rest of the UK.
A Universities Scotland spokesperson said: "We believe that the cross-border flow of students is healthy for the higher education sector in Scotland and the UK. Anything that discourages that is a bad thing."
- Average student debt has increased more than fivefold since 1992, according to The Tenth Barclays Student Survey . It found that average debt is £5,961, compared with £1,095 in 1992. And 95 per cent of students owe money, compared with a third in 1992.
Owain James, National Union of Students president, claimed average debt at graduation was actually around £10,000.