MSP Alex Neil, a Brexiteer, said the country could no longer afford the subsidy for “rich EU kids” at the “expense of our own kids.” Currently, EU law states the Government’s free tuition fee policy for Scots requires EU students to be treated the same.
But this policy is unclear after the Brexit transition period ends in December.
The former Health and Social Justice Secretary told the Daily Record: “We should start to make savings on European Union students who come here and get taught for nothing.
“We are teaching, in some cases, rich EU students and we are in danger of not being able to fund education for Scottish students.”
He added: “If Brexit is going to happen on 31st December, then I certainly don’t think we can afford to continue to subsidise rich European kids at the expense of our own kids.”
Scottish Universities are currently doing virtual learning.
EU students are currently funded in Scotland.
“In any case, we objected to doing it in the first place, but we were forced to by EU rules.”
The Airdrie and Shotts MSP said £10m should be used to pay for scholarships for Scottish students to learn in Europe if the policy was to continue.
More than 21,500 EU students studied at Scottish universities in the 2018/19 academic year, with 15,300 students receiving government funding while the cost of providing funded places to EU students was around £97m.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out introducing tuition fees for Scottish students to help the financial crisis looming in Scotland.
Alex Neil MSP has spoken out.
This is despite Economy Secretary Katie Forbes MSP warning there was a £500 million black hole in funding needed to help deal with COVID-19.
Scottish Funding Council (SFC) data showed Universities face a loss of around £72m due to COVID-19 in the 2020/21 academic year.
They are expected to suffer a collective operating deficit of between £384m and £651m.
A Scottish Government’s Economic Recovery Advisory Group report produced by Nicola Sturgeon’s economic adviser Benny Higgins, added: “The higher education sector is experiencing a huge fall in international students, and many Scottish universities are highly exposed to this international market.
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Scots currently don’t pay university fees.
“Current funding arrangements in Scotland have benefited from the growth of international students and students from the rest of the UK, which have cross-subsidised tuition for home students and research activities.
“So the temporary loss of international students directly impacts on provision of education for home students.”
A spokesperson for Universities Scotland, said: “The future fee-status of EU students is something we have raised with the Scottish Government ever since the Brexit referendum.
“The clarity from the Scottish Government about the fee status for EU students starting in 2021-22 is long overdue and needs clarified immediately.
University of Edinburgh.
“Our counterparts in England have received this clarity. Whatever decision the Scottish Government comes to, it needs to communicate a quick and reasoned decision.”
The Scottish Government has agreed to fund EU students until the end of the current academic year but stressed “they are still looking into further arrangements beyond 2021.”