Scotland's higher education institutions could form their own debt collection agency to recover fees from students under the government's new loan proposals.
The Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals has set up a working group chaired by Edinburgh University's secretary Martin Lowe to report back in December on the feasibility of a debt collection scheme run on behalf of its 21 institutions.
Ronald Crawford, secretary of COSHEP, said: "I don't think any institution, large or small, is looking forward to the prospect of engaging with students in fees collection, and above all in pursuing debt."
COSHEP has already sought preliminary advice from a major firm of chartered accountants that has expertise in debt collection. It will now consider a range of options, including setting up a debt collection company. If this were to prove feasible, there could be the prospect of the company paying the fees income "up front" to higher education institutions before embarking on the task of recovering student debts.
Dr Crawford said the move was another example of how Scotland's size enabled institutions to work together much more easily than was possible south of the border.