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Higher education survey a challenge to nationalist tuiton fee assertions

June 24, 2014 3:33 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Liam McArthur has Willie Rennie MSPWillie Rennie MSPsaid that an academic paper published today which says that an independent Scotland could no longer charge English, Welsh and Northern Irish students fees present a square challenge to the nationalists assertions.

The briefing paper from Edinburgh University as part of the ESRC's Future of the UK and Scotland project said that whilst Scottish universities may not see an influx of students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland immediately following a vote for independence, the survey of experts found that it will be necessary to attract growing number of young people from elsewhere to sustain the size of Scotland's universities.

Commenting on the paper, Mr McArthur said:

"Nationalists have long asserted that an independent Scotland would be able to charge fees to students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, even if those from the rest of the EU would remain exempt. These claims have never been credible and are further undermined by this academic paper from the University of Edinburgh.

"There are currently over 4,800 undergraduate students from the rest of the UK paying fees to study in Scotland. Even if there was not a significant increase in students from the rest of the UK in the event of a vote for independence, there would still be a significant funding gap to fill. You don't need a degree in maths to see that these sums just don't add up.

"As part of the UK, Scottish Universities are at the top of the global league tables for the quality education they provide, attracting growing numbers of students from across the globe. We also benefit from a UK-wide research funding pot. Today's report from education experts presents a square challenge to the nationalists and both students and the university sector deserve answers from Mr Salmond and colleagues instead of more bluster."