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In September, ACA reported that the Scottish government had recently concluded a public consultation on proposed legislation to allow individual Scottish universities to establish their own tuition fee rates for students who normally live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland – so-called “RUK domiciled students” (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2011). The results of that consultation were made publicly available in November, and on the basis of this exercise, the government intends to move forward with the proposed legislation. If the legislative process goes according to plan, the new tuition fees would likely kick in from the academic year 2012/13.
The consultation garnered a total of 44 written responses – from 7 individuals, 15 universities, 9 student associations and 13 other organisations. Meetings were also held with six stakeholder groups. The net effect of the consultation process was to convince the government that there is widespread interest in protecting Scottish students’ opportunities in the face of tuition fee policy changes occurring in the rest of the United Kingdom, and further, that the diversity among Scottish universities would not be served by a set or standard fee mandated centrally. The government holds the belief that the country’s higher education institutions can respond more flexibly to as-yet-unknown future developments with regard to RUK student responses to the tuition changes at home, as well as competitor behaviour.
Finally, the government has indicated it will be paying attention to the financial impact of the new RUK fee arrangements as these evolve, as well as monitoring the cross-border flows of RUK students, which it seeks to maintain at current levels.