English students undeterred by Scottish fees

MORE ENGLISH students are signing up for degrees at Scottish universities, even though they will have to pay an extra year's tuition fees.

Ministers are introducing tuition fees of pounds 1,000 a year and degree courses at Scottish universities last four years, compared with three years for most courses at English universities.

Earlier this year, the Lords rebelled against the Government's decision not to fund English students for an extra year's study in Scotland. Scottish students who study at Scottish universities, however, will have their fees paid for the fourth year.

The rebellion nearly caused a constitutional crisis and was halted only when David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, agreed to an inquiry.

But figures released yesterday by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) show that, with several weeks of clearing still to go, 4,330 English students have signed up at Scottish universities, compared with a final total last year of 4,292. Tony Higgins, chief executive of Ucas, said: "Figures show that English students are more enthusiastic than ever about studying in Scotland even though most Scottish courses are four years long, compared with three years in England.

"Speculation that English students would be put off accepting a place in Scotland by having to pay four years' tuition instead of three have proved groundless. It seems that this autumn, Scotland will be welcoming even more English students than last year, which is great news."

Speculation that students would withdraw from clearing appears to be unfounded. Though the numbers withdrawing from clearing are up slightly compared with the same time last year, Ucas says this may be because applications for about 330,000 places have been processed more quickly. So far 279,249 students have found places.