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Taking action in higher education

Union shocked by fee announcements

5 September 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU Scotland has criticised the announcement that Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities will charge £9,000 fees per year for students from the rest of the UK.

In a statement* to the Scottish Parliament in July, Mike Russell stated that universities could charge variable fees for other UK students up to £9,000 a year. This effectively introduces the English system in Scotland and goes against the SNP promise to not introduce tuition fees in Scotland. However, the Minister has stated he expected Scottish Universities would show restraint and not charge the full fee and has stated that £6,375 is a competitive figure.

Edinburgh University is to charge £9 000 per annum leading to a fee of £36 000 for other UK students on four-year courses. Heriot-Watt have followed the lead of Aberdeen University in defying the Minister by charging the full fee, all be it capped for a maximum of three years. Even without an extra year of study, the cost of living in and travelling to Scotland will make studying here more expansive than staying in England but for Edinburgh students there may also be an extra year of fees.

UCU is concerned that setting the variable fee at the highest level will stem the flow of English students leading to the loss of the funds that universities are attempting to maximise. UCU believes that a system which is financially neutral for individual universities is a better option which will avoid universities pricing themselves out of reach for most other UK students.

UCU Scottish official, Mary Senior, said: 'We are disappointed that Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Universities are to set headline fees at the highest level leaving students paying more to study in Scotland than even in England. Though Edinburgh are offering bursaries most students won't qualify for these so that only the wealthiest will consider Edinburgh an option. Our worst fears that most Scottish universities will ignore the Minister and charge the highest possible fee have come to fruition.

'We call on the Minister to think again about introducing a market for other UK students which will bring chaos to the admissions system for many years to come.'

notes
*In Mike Russell's Ministerial Statement on Higher Education in the Scottish Parliament on 29 June he announced a consultation on his plans on fees for other UK students.

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