I’ve laid a motion in the Scottish Parliament to argue for fairer rules on tuition fees for international students who study in Scotland. I recently met with the newly elected President of The Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA), James McAsh, and Sheona Lawson, Policy and Public Affairs Co-ordinator at EUSA to discuss the issues with the tuition fee system for non-EU students.
Each year over 30,000 international students choose to study here from over 180 countries. Scotland has a long standing reputation for academic excellence, a globally respected education programme and many choose Scotland to enhance their skills and career path. International students make a significant cultural contribution to Scottish society, not to mention contributing hundreds of millions of pounds to our local economy.
Yet international students from outside the EU embark on their study programmes in Scotland with no guarantee that their tuition fees will not fluctuate. Each institution sets their own yearly rate but can decide to increase the amount during a degree programme, which can result in many facing serious financial difficulties. Many students are not aware that their fees can rise so are often caught out by unexpected rises and face major problems with affordability. International students are already paying thousands upon thousands each year in fee to study in Scotland, yet can find the completion of their course put at risk. It is wholly unfair for any student to find out at some point during their period of study that they may not be able to meet the fee which is being requested. This of course makes it virtually impossible for a student to budget accurately and with peace of mind that they can afford the bills from the outset.
My parliamentary motion will draw attention to EUSA’s calls for more fairness and transparency on tuition fee levels. I hope that it will gain cross party support and that the Scottish Government will actively engage with EUSA to discuss their concerns and take positive action to rectify this situation.