European Union students studying in Scotland and enrolling in 2018-19 will be guaranteed free tuition for the duration of their courses, putting pressure on the other UK governments to make equivalent guarantees following the Brexit vote.
John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, made the announcement on 24 March.
“Following the uncertainty caused by the UK government hard Brexit and the imminent triggering of Article 50, Mr Swinney has moved to reassure applicants for 2018-19, confirming the guarantee already in place for eligible EU students enrolling this year will be extended to those beginning their studies the following academic year,” the Scottish government said.
The Westminster government announced in October 2016 that EU students from outside the UK enrolling on courses in 2017-18 would continue to be eligible for student loans and maintenance support, where applicable. That announcement also signalled that EU students from outside the UK starting courses in 2017-18 would not be charged higher tuition fees than home students.
However, despite pressure from Universities UK, the Westminster government has not offered any funding guarantees for non-British EU students starting courses in 2018-19.
Applications from EU students to start courses at UK universities in 2017 fell by 7 per cent on the previous year following the Brexit vote, Ucas figures recently showed.
On a visit to the University of Dundee, Mr Swinney said: “I am proud that Scotland is a destination of choice for EU students, and I am delighted to give them further reassurance by confirming that support from the Scottish government for tuition-free studies will continue for those commencing courses here in the 2018-19 academic year.
“However, the continued refusal by the UK government to give assurances to EU nationals living in Scotland that their rights will remain in place, ahead of the formal Brexit procedures beginning next week, is deeply concerning.
“EU students will rightly have concerns about any change in their status halfway through a course. These students deserve certainty, and knowing that their free tuition is in place for the entirety of their course is important, that is why I have confirmed this free tuition.”