With the last remaining Scottish institution, University of Highlands and Islands (UHI), announcing their degree cost for British students, Scotland becomes the most expensive place to study in the UK, claims the National Union of Students (NUS).
A degree at UHI for non-Scottish UK students will cost £22,500 from 2012/13. This brings the average degree cost in Scottish institutions to £27,083, compared to £25,179 in England. . This means the average Scottish degree will cost more than the most expensive English degrees (£27,000).
The legislation allowing Scottish universities to charge English, Welsh and Northern Ireland students for their studies was introduced in order to safeguard places for Scottish students, after the Coalition Government introduced the same law for universities in England last year. The Scottish Education Secretary, Michael Russel, said in June, when proposing the legislation, that it would prevent from Scottish institutions being seen as the ‘cheap option’ by the rest of the UK.
He also claimed that hardly any Scottish university would set the maximum fee of £9,000 per year.
With all Scottish institutions having published, what they will charge from next academic year, the average degree comes up to over £27,000. However, as the majority of non-Scottish UK students study at the institutions that set the highest degree cost of £36,000: University of Edinburgh (31% of non-Scottish students) and St Andrews University (11%), the average degree cost in Scotland will exceed £30,000.
Nathan Sheilds, President of UHI Student Association, said in a statement for NUS:
“We are fully against all fees, and support free education. I fully understand that the University of the Highlands and Islands was put in a difficult position, but this is a huge missed opportunity to set an example to other universities and throughout the UK, that we are interested in students’ ability, not the money they can bring.”
Robin Parker, President of NUS Scotland, said in a statement:
“Principals were given a huge responsibility to set fees, but they’ve shown that they can’t be trusted. Now that every university has set its fee level, we can see that Scotland’s fees system has gone beyond even what we’ve seen in England. This will no doubt cause untold damage to Scotland’s reputation in the rest of the UK.
“The Scottish Government should now step in to reduce these fee levels and to introduce minimum standards on bursaries to protect access for the poorest students, and save university principals from themselves.”
The Scottish Education Secretary commented for the Office of Fair Access:
“I am pleased that the majority of our universities have shown restraint and we estimate that the proposed average fee of £6,841 will be further decreased by packages of bursaries and fee waivers to around £6,375, one of the scenarios which the Joint Technical Working Group envisaged earlier this year.
“Of course, the Scottish Government has provided a generous settlement for our universities – which has been universally welcomed. I am confident that our universities are now on the best possible footing to continue to compete with the best in the world.”
The Secretary refers to the £217 million of Government funding by 2015 for Scottish universities, promised in The Scottish Spending Review 2011, published last Thursday.