By Mathew R Johnstone
Students from the rest of the UK who are avoiding Scottish universities because of tuition fees have left a huge funding gap of £3.75m.
Figures published by the Herald show that 500 fewer students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland chose to study in Scotland in 2014 compared with 2012.
With the average yearly tuition fees of £7500, Scottish universities will miss out on an estimated £3.75m in one academic year.
Introducing tuition fees for non-Scottish students was intended to raise revenue for higher education institutions, but 12 out of 18 Scottish universities attracted fewer UK students the year after tuition fees were introduced.
The University of Strathclyde’s admission from within the UK fell by almost a quarter: from 395 admitted in 2011-12 to 305 in 2013-14. Strathclyde currently charges these English, Welsh and Northern Irish students £9,000 a year for a Bachelor’s degree, with the total cost capped at £27,000.
That equates to a loss of £810,000 in one year for Strathclyde alone.
The University of Edinburgh remains the most popular Scottish university for students within the UK, despite a fall in admissions over this period.
Some universities saw their admission rates from the rest of the UK increase, including Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow, who attracted more than 200 additional students from the rest of the UK. Both of these institutions also charge the maximum of £9000 a year.
Free tuition is offered to students from Scotland and the European Union, but the £9000-a-year cap was introduced to ensure there was not an influx of students from the rest of the UK trying to escape tuition fees that were increased by the Coalition government.
President of NUS Scotland Gordon Maloney said to the Herald: “While the decision to raise fees in Scotland was ultimately the result of the Westminster government’s disastrous decision to raise fees in England, the Scottish system has gone above and beyond that.”
“Not only do £9,000 fees in Scotland mean the highest degree cost in the UK, but at the same time there’s no requirement on the part of institutions to provide additional support or promote fair access for students from the rest of the UK.”
Universities Scotland has denied that the increase in tuition fees directly resulted in falling admission numbers, telling the Herald: “there was an expectation that student numbers would suffer a little as an immediate after effect of such a change to the UK system as the introduction of £9,000 fees and the same is true for universities across the UK with student numbers initially taking a while to recover.”
“Overall, there is still a good level of demand for a Scottish higher education from across the UK and the number of rest of the UK applicants accepted into Scottish institutions increased last year on the year before.”