University tuition fees for students from outside Scotland are to rise from 2006, the Scottish Executive has said.
Scottish students will be unaffected by the increase
The general fee level for courses in Scotland will be £1,700 per year, a rise of £500. A higher rate of £2,700 has been set for medical school places.
The move comes as universities in England prepare to introduce variable tuition fees of up to £3,000.
Lifelong Learning Minister Nicol Stephen said Scottish students would not be affected by the increase.
Under the proposals, eligible Scottish students would continue to have their fees paid by the Students Awards Agency for Scotland.
Scottish students who went to study in England would be entitled to a non-means tested loan to meet the cost of fees in English institutions.
The measures will be put before the Scottish Parliament in the autumn.
This consultation is required under the terms of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act, which was passed in April.
Mr Stephen said: "We have to strike the right balance between protecting the interests of Scottish domiciled students and ensuring Scotland continues to be an attractive destination for all students.
"Fees should be sufficiently high to affect demand but not too high to price Scottish universities out of the UK market. With this package of measures, I believe we've got it right."
He said he wanted students from elsewhere to consider Scotland "the right option, not the cheap option".
The Liberal Democrat minister said the fees for Scottish medical schools were higher because demand for places was already acute, with 10 applicants for every place.
And he said that Scottish graduates from medical schools were twice as likely to be working for NHS Scotland ten years after graduation as students from the rest of the UK.
National Union of Students Scotland president Melanie Ward said she was concerned that the measure was "the first step on the ladder to top-up fees in Scotland".
Scottish National Party lifelong learning spokesperson Fiona Hyslop said: "What is now being proposed is a top-up fee across the board, and the swingeing rise for medical students is particularly worrying since a third of English medical students studying in Scotland currently stay in Scotland to work in the NHS after graduation.
"Scottish universities need additional funding to keep them competitive on the global stage, but this should be by means of government grant not student fee hikes.
"This smacks of Westminster top-up fees by imitation."
Green MSP Mark Ballard said he was unequivocally against variable top up fees.
He said: "Students should be encouraged to choose courses according to ability and their interests, not on price, and students from other parts of the UK should be encouraged to come to Scotland, not deterred."