University fees EU students: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1. How many EU students are studying at our universities?
2. How will the £400 million be spent?
3. How many Scottish students are allowed places at Scottish universities given the recent publicity regarding a cap on the number of Scottish students that can get places at our universities.


The answers to your questions are as follows:
1. In 2018-19 there were 21,505 EU students (excluding exchange students) studying at Scottish universities. This equates to 8.5% of the total number of students.

2. Currently, the annual cost associated with providing funded places to EU students is approximately £97 million. Figures from Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) show that 15,310 full-time EU students received funding in the academic year 2018-19 while studying at a Scottish university. The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students commencing their studies in 2020-21 at a Scottish college or university will be eligible to apply to have their tuition fees paid by SAAS. The Scottish Government are currently working to consider the funding position for future support to EU students who will be starting a course beyond 2020-21.

3. With the exception of controlled subjects, the Scottish Government does not direct individual universities on the number of funded places made available for eligible Scottish and EU domicile students. Scottish Universities are autonomous institutions and as such, the Scottish Government and Scottish Ministers are unable to intervene in internal institutional matters. Universities are allocated a finite amount of money, it is then for the universities themselves to decide how to distribute these places between faculties. It is also for the universities to decide which courses they offer; and how many of the total funded places will be available on each course.

Each institution is allocated a number of full time equivalent funded places via the Scottish Funding Council for eligible Scottish domiciled and EU students on full-time undergraduate courses. The total number of funded places in Scottish universities is currently over 128,200 in 2019-20. International students and those from other parts of the UK (rUK) are not eligible to access the funded places which have been protected for Scottish and EU students. To enable flexibility in student recruitment, the Scottish Funding Council allows universities to recruit up to 10% above the number of funded places available. In addition to this, universities are able to offer as many places to rUK and international students as they wish.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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