Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney has announced that EU students starting at Scottish universities in 2017 will not be required to pay fees throughout the duration of the course, even following Britain’s formal exit from the EU, which is expected to takeplace in March 2019.
This comes after EU students beginning courses this year were promised a continuation of the current tuition fee policy by the Scottish Government in July. Since Britain’s vote to leave the EU in June, foreign students carrying out, or hoping to embark on, studies in the UK have been seeking guarantees on the status of their funding.
Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal of the University of St Andrews, has previously stated that the fee status of all EU students who began studies in 2016 or earlier would remain unchanged by the referendum result (i.e. continue to be free of charge).
However Mr Swinney warned that tuition would be free for students beginning studies in 2017 so long as the UK government guarantee their right to stay in Scotland during their studies and work here after their studies. When making this demand at the SNP conference in Glasgow, Swinney insisted that EU students hoping to study in the UK “are not cards to be played. They are human beings,” and urged the government in Westminster to treat them as such.
However, no guarantees regarding the future rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK have yet been made by the British government in the wake of vote to leave the EU.