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14 October 2016

Scotland is love bombing EU students with free post-Brexit tuition

Secretary for education John Swinney extended the guarantee to students starting in 2017-18. 

By Julia Rampen

The Scottish Government is to guarantee free tuition to EU students starting in the academic year of 2017-18, its cabinet secretary for education and skills said.

John Swinney, who is also deputy First Minister, said EU students were not “cards to be played” but “human beings”.

He pledged to extend the guarantee of free tuition, already made for 2016-17. 

A spokesman confirmed that EU students starting in 2017-18  would receive funding for the duration of their course. A typical Scottish course lasts four years. 

But English, Northern Irish and Welsh students must continue to pay up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees. 

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Swinney’s pledge is the culmination of two days of love bombing EU nationals at a conference relentlessly focused on rebuking the “toxic” Tories.

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MPs and MSPs have embraced diversity, with enthusiastic talk about the “Auld Alliance” between Scotland and France.

While Theresa May’s anti-immigrant rhetoric dominated the headlines after the Conservative party conference, the government has more quietly been trying to placate the UK’s valuable higher education sector.

The announcement comes days after the Tory government said EU students in England and Wales will have access to low-cost student loans until 2020.

In Glasgow, SNP politicians have demanded more progressive immigration policies – controlled by Westminster – and the return of the post-study work visa. 

A version of this scheme in fact already being piloted, but as several SNP speakers have noted at the conference, only at the English universities of Imperial College, Oxford, Cambridge and Bath.