Scotland is gearing up to control the number of English students seeking sanctuary from top-up fees. Scots fear home students could be squeezed out.
The cross-border traffic is expected to be very much one way as English students seek places in Scottish universities that have no upfront fees.
The Scottish Executive responded last week by unveiling proposals to increase annual fees for all non-Scottish UK students by between £500 and Pounds 700.
It is also consulting on an unspecified higher fee for non-Scottish medical students. It argues that a Scottish medical degree would be at least Pounds 5,500 cheaper for non-Scots if fees remained at the same level as that for other courses.
The executive fears that existing shortages in the National Health Service in Scotland could be exacerbated by a rise in the number of non-Scottish students, since Scots graduates are twice as likely as other medical graduates to be working in Scotland ten years after graduating.
The number of non-Scots heading north to study is far greater than the number of Scots going south. The majority of Scottish pupils take a broad range of Highers rather than a smaller number of A levels, which dovetail better with Scottish rather than English degrees.
Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service this year show a 17.7 per cent rise in the number of English applicants to Scotland, to ,797, up from 23,611 in 2003-04.
This outstrips the number of Scottish applicants, which rose by 3.1 per cent, from 25,887 to 26,685. In contrast, the number of Scots applying to English institutions rose by 4.6 per cent, from 4,335 to 4,536.