Glasgow has decided not to charge the maximum price for tuition fees to Rest of uk (ruk) students. This policy appears, from recent statistics, to have been the wise choice to make. One of the ideas put forward was a rise to £9,000 tuition fees for ruk students, essentially on the basis that all the other universities were doing it. Advocates of the fee rise claimed that people would view Glasgow as worse than other universities if we didn’t charge the maximum tuition fee, and so, we’d fall behind.
However that theory has largely been blown out the water with the applications for university next year. Scottish universities as a whole have experienced a 5% drop on ruk applications, while Glasgow Uni has experienced an 11% rise in ruk applications. So charging less makes more people want to come here, which makes sense really.
This really is good news for Glasgow. The University’s decision to cap fees for the full fours years at £26,000 makes Glasgow even cheaper than English universities despite there being a whole extra year to pay for in Scotland. This is also significant because Glasgow is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of universities, and is undercutting the other members, a move which is probably not popular amongst the rest of the group. Graeme Kirkpatrick, depute president of the nus said ‘We always said £36,000 was a ludicrous amount for anyone to pay for their education and it seems that students from the rest of uk agree, and are voting with their feet.’ Other Scottish universities such as St Andrews, who have seen a drop in applications, may jibe Glasgow for offering a budget education, but
There’ll certainly be more of us than them. That means more paying students, which means more coins going into the university’s coffers, which means money to sustain a high standard of education.
Looking at the actual figures, Welsh students seem to be the most keen to take advantage of the cheaper fees available at Glasgow, with an astonishing 37% increase in applications from Wales, and a 22% increase in applications from England. The increased number of applicants, especially at this difficult economic time is particularly welcome. It’s vitally important for Scotland to keep attracting intellectuals from south of the border, especially now. If Scotland were to go independent, it would mean that we would have to survive unaided.
Arguments about the feasibility of that aside, it is important to attract the brightest minds from across the uk, and have them working to improve Scotland. It is necessary to have many students come here from England, Wales and Northern Ireland and help improve our universities, if only bluntly, by paying more than 3 times the fees that Scottish students pay. This state of affairs, with Glasgow beating out other Scottish universities for applications, may not last long, however. A legal challenge has been lodged with the court system by Public Interest Lawyers (pil), which would, if successful, stop the snp’s current policy of allowing universities to charge up to £9,000 a year for ruk students, while Scottish students have their tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Some have gone so far as to call this ‘fees apartheid’; however, the snp have made their position clear: ‘We are committed to free access to higher education based on ability, not the ability to pay… The Scottish Government ensures that Scots-domicile undergraduates studying in Scotland pay no tuition fees – it is Westminster which refuses to pay for students from England.’
Whether this will force the snp to change the law or not remains to be seen, but in this case, Glasgow pursued a risky strategy, but it seems to have come out on top. [Bryce Johnston]