Free university tuition hailed as Scottish student applications increase


By G.A.Ponsonby
The number of Scottish based students applying for university places in Scotland has increased, according to figures published today.
The latest round of Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) statistics show that the number of Scots domiciled students applying to study in Scotland has gone up by 0.1%.

The figures also show that overall applications for Scottish universities went up by 0.8% compared with the same period last year.

Applications from within the EU rose by 7.6% whilst students from outside the EU wishing to study in Scotland jumped by a massive 23.8%.

The figures also showed that the drop in the number of English based students applying for university places was greater south of the border than in Scotland.  English universities saw home based student applications fall by 8.3% whilst there were 3.4% fewer English based students applying for a place in Scotland.

The Westminster coalition tripled fees for those wishing to attend Universities in England after they came to power in 2010.  However the SNP Government have provided funding in order to remove tuition fees for Scottish based students. 

Although there are fees applied to non-Scottish based UK students, they are still lower than those imposed by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

The new figures were welcomed by SNP MSP Marco Biagi MSP who called them a “vindication” of the SNP’s no tuition fees policy.

Mr Biagi who is a member of Holyrood’s Education Committee said:

“These figures, which now represent a very large proportion of applications – showing a rise in applications to Scottish universities by students from Scotland, in stark contrast to the position south of the Border – are a vindication of the Scottish Government’s policy of no tuition fees.

“We are fortunate that – thanks to the SNP Government – the betrayal of students by the Lib Dems in coalition with the Tories at Westminster does not apply to Scots students studying in Scotland.

“The SNP’s investment in our universities and maintenance of our policy on no tuition fees means that young Scots have free access to some of the best universities in the world – universities that draw applications from around the globe.  The English higher education sector by contrast faces an
uncertain future, and according to UCAS’s figures have seen a 7% drop in the total number of applications this year.

“Within England there has been a staggering drop of 8.3% of English students applying to study, while in here in Scotland there has in fact been an increase in Scots-domiciled students applying to Scottish universities, as well as an increase overall.”

Applications for places at English universities fell by almost 22,000 between 2011 and 2012.  The SNP MSP claimed that the Conservative/Lib Dem policy on fees were damaging English universities and harming the prospects of young people living in England.

He added:

“The message has clearly got across to Scotland’s young people that the ridiculous and damaging policies of the UK Government don’t apply here, and that they continue to have the opportunity for tuition free education in Scotland’s world class universities.”