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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Fewer Scots set to study at home
The number of students from England rose
The number of students from England rose
The number of Scots students winning places at universities in Scotland has fallen, according to new figures.

The number of students from England being offered places north of the border has gone up, the university admissions service Ucas said.

The figures showed that 4,289 people from England won places in Scotland, up 5.5% on 2004.

But the numbers of Scots being accepted fell by 1.4%, from 26,046 last year to 25,685, Ucas said.

From autumn 2006, annual tuition fees at universities in England - currently a flat rate of 1,150 - will vary from nothing up to a maximum of 3,000 depending on the institution.

Earlier this year Holyrood passed legislation to allow ministers to vary fees in Scotland.

Scottish ministers always insisted that the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill would not open the door to English-style top-up fees.

It is too early to say whether the increase in applications from English-domiciled students has been influenced by variable fee regime, which is not due to be introduced until June 2006
Scottish Executive spokesman

Instead, they were aimed at protecting the interests of Scots students by deterring a flood of "fee refugees" from south of the border, it was argued.

In particular, ministers pointed to high demand for places at Scottish medical schools.

The fee for medical courses in Scotland will be increased to 2,700 next year.

Ministers also announced an increase in general tuition fee levels in Scotland next year from 1,200 to 1,700, although eligible Scots students will continue to have these paid by the state.

The Scottish National Party's education spokeswoman Fiona Hyslop said the slight increase in English students winning places showed moves by the executive to discourage "fee refugees" were unnecessary.

Ms Hyslop said: "Because of their narrow-minded parochialism, they have hiked tuition fees for these students through the roof, a move which could backfire badly in an expanding European higher education market.

"This is a backward move in a country like ours which needs to attract the best brains to learn, study and stay in Scotland.

"We need a robust, internationalist university sector and we need to ensure that young Scots are equipped with the best education to compete with anyone for places."

An executive spokesman said: "It is too early to say whether the increase in applications from English-domiciled students has been influenced by variable fee regime, which is not due to be introduced until June 2006.

"The executive, together with key stakeholders in the sector, will continue to carefully monitor the numbers involved in cross-border flows to ensure that Scottish students are not disadvantaged by changes that have been made south of the border."


SEE ALSO:
Tuition fees rise for non-Scots
20 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Bill allows top-up fees exception
20 Apr 05 |  Scotland


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