Annual tuition fee averages £7,000

Students from the rest of the UK who go to Scotland to get their degree face an average annual fee of just under £7,000 a year, it was revealed today.

The University of the Highlands and Islands became the final university in Scotland to announce its proposed fees for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.



It plans to charge students £7,500 a year for the first three years of their course, with the fourth year to be free, meaning those at the university will pay a maximum of £22,500.



All Scottish universities have now announced their proposed fee levels for students from the rest of the UK, resulting in an estimated average fee of £6,841.



Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, said it was "shameful" that Scotland would be the most expensive place in Britain for these people to study in.



A number of universities, including Edinburgh and St Andrews, plan to charge students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland £9,000 from the academic year 2012-13.



Mr Parker said: "When you look at the fact that over 40% of students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland study at Edinburgh and St Andrews universities, where degrees will cost £36,000, the real average degree will cost over £30,000. This figure doesn't even take into account the additional year of living costs in Scotland.



"It's shameful that Scotland will be the most expensive place to study in the whole of the UK for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.



"This system is one that simply allows principals to cash in on students from the rest of UK, and that's unjustifiable.



"The Scottish Government should now step in to reduce these fee levels and to introduce minimum standards on bursaries to protect access for the poorest students, and save university principals from themselves."



The Scottish Government is currently moving forward with legislation to allow Scottish universities to charge students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland fees of up to £9,000 a year.



However, the SNP administration at Holyrood has maintained it will not introduce fees or a graduate contribution for Scottish students.



Education Secretary Mike Russell said ministers north of the border had "no choice but to respond to the increase in tuition fees to £9,000 south of the border".



Mr Russell stated: "Scottish students and their parents have long had the reassurance of knowing that undergraduate education in Scotland will remain free.



"To maintain opportunities for our students, and to protect our world-leading universities' reputation and competitiveness, we had no choice but to respond to the increase in tuition fees to £9,000 south of the border."



The Education Secretary said he was pleased "the majority of our universities have shown restraint" when setting fees, adding that the proposed average fee could fall to about £6,375 when packages of bursaries and fee waivers were taken into account.



Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: "At £6,841 the average fee for students living in the rest-of-UK is significantly lower than the equivalent average fee charged by English universities which the Office for Fair Access puts at £8,509.



"When bursaries, fee waivers and scholarships offered by universities are taken into account, the average fee which students will actually end up paying in 2012-13 is likely to be several hundred pounds lower than this."

PA

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