Concerns Mount Over Scottish Universities Reliance on International Student Tuition Fees

United Kingdom Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Oct 25, 2023

Edinburgh, Scotland

It has been alleged that Scottish universities rely heavily on international students' cash since the government does not provide sufficient funding. That has triggered concerns among the Scottish Conservatives.

According to local media reports, data obtained by the Conservatives show the number of new international students in Scotland has increased threefold since the Scottish National Party (SNP) took office.

Figures have shown there were 18,280 first-time undergraduate international students in Scotland from non-EU countries, a nearly 205 percent increase from the 2007/08 academic year when only 6,000 international students studied in Scotland.

Members of the Conservative Party in Scotland made a comparison of international student enrollment with domestic student numbers, saying the number of first-year local students has increased by 60 percent over the same period.

They claim that universities are forced to reject applications from domestic students due to a limit on funded study places.

According to them, universities are prioritizing international students because they are becoming dependent on their tuition fees, but that is affecting Scottish students.

“Scotland, our universities’ reliance on international fees is having an unfair impact on young Scots,” Conservative education spokesman Liam Kerr told STV News, urging the government to pay attention to the Scottish Conservatives’ calls.

New data released this year showed international students contribute £4.75 billion to Scotland’s economy. A report by Universities UK International (UUKi), the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), highlighted the importance of international students per constituency in Scotland, estimated to be £71 million, or nearly £750 per resident.

“It is vital that we value their contribution to Scottish society and continue to provide a warm and inclusive welcome for all those choosing to study in Scotland,” Andrea Nolan, Convener of Universities Scotland’s International Committee, said following the release of the report.

There were over 44,000 first-year international students in Scotland during the 2021/22 academic year.

Another report by British Council Scotland found that the Scottish higher education sector is overly reliant on international students, who account for 27.3 of the total student body. That is a higher share compared to the whole of the United Kingdom, where international students represented 22.6 percent of all students over the same period.

The total number of international students in the UK during 2021/22 stood at 679,970 students. Of these, 120,140 were from the EU and 559,825 from countries outside the EU.

Previous reports said that the UK’s domestic students will have fewer chances to secure a place at universities because the country is prioritizing international students who pay more than local students in tuition fees.

>> Survey: Int'l Student Recruitment a Top Priority for Universities in Australia, Canada & UK

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