Degrees from Scottish universities will be the most expensive in the UK for students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales following major rises in tuition fees.
All of Scotland’s universities have now declared their fees for non-Scottish students. The average cost of a degree from a Scottish university will be nearly £7,000 a year for ‘Rest of UK’ (RUK) students.
The decision follows last year’s move by the UK government to allow universities to charge up to £9,000 a year for tuition.
The rise in fees will face new students enrolling in Scottish universities in 2012/13.
A number of universities, including Aberdeen, Dundee, and Strathclyde, have followed Edinburgh and St Andrews in charging the maximum permitted fee of £9,000 a year.
Fees will rise dramatically from their current level of £1,800 a year for RUK students at all of Scotland’s universities.
St Andrews’ Students’ Association’s President Patrick O’Hare feels only an increase of fees to £3,300 a year could be justified to cover the reduction in RUK funding from the government.
“In setting fees well above this level, and well above the average degree cost in England, universities like St Andrews have shown that they care more about generating income than about fairness, or the financial burden placed on students,” he argues.
However, some universities, such as Aberdeen and Dundee, have announced that they will cap degree fees at £27,000, in effect making one year tuition-free, in
order to match the maximum degree cost of a degree in England and limit the financial expense for students.
Degrees from St Andrews and Edinburgh will be the most expensive in the UK for students from the rest of the UK.
President of NUS Scotland Robin Parker described the cost of Scottish degrees as “startling.”
The average cost of a Scottish degree for a RUK student will be £27,083, nearly two thousand pounds higher than the English degree average of £25,179.
Parker said: “The average degree, and I repeat average, will cost more than the very maximum allowed in England. This system is one that simply allows principals to cash in on students from the rest of UK, and that’s unjustifiable.”
Patrick O’Hare hit out at what he termed the “elitism” of the decision by the Scottish government, which will allow universities such as St Andrews and Edinburgh to increase their finances due to their high number of RUK students at the expense of students from lower income backgrounds.
O’Hare believes this risks the creation of a ‘two-tier’ university system in Scotland.
Scotland’s Education Secretary Mike Russell declared himself pleased by the “restraint” shown by the majority of universities in Scotland when deciding fee rises.
The result of the fee rises on RUK applications to St Andrews remains to be seen. Last year, RUK applications to St Andrews fell 18%, despite the fact that the price of Scottish degree at that point in time was 28% cheaper than a degree in England.
Patrick O’Hare said: “Now it will become 25% more expensive, and it is hard to see that not taking its toll on our application level.”