Universities Scotland says 20% decline in int’l student market reduces subsidized tuition for domestic students  

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Universities Scotland has raised alarms over the potential 20% reduction in international student numbers, warning it could significantly hinder the ability to subsidize tuition fees for Scottish students. Experts are calling for increased funding from the Scottish Government to stabilize the higher education sector. However, Professor Iain Gillespie, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Dundee and convener of Universities Scotland, cautions that simply boosting funding for Scottish-domiciled students may not suffice to end universities’ reliance on international tuition fees.

Professor Gillespie emphasized that around 70% of international students are drawn to the UK by the post-study work visa, but proposed restrictions on this visa, including higher minimum salary requirements, are deterring them. He highlighted the critical financial role international students play, contributing significantly to the funding that supports Scottish student tuition. This cross-subsidization is a fundamental aspect of the university financial model, which has been in place for some time.

Financial pressures on Scottish universities are escalating, with rising research costs making them less competitive compared to English institutions. Sir Paul Grice, Vice-Chancellor at Queen Margaret University and Vice Convener for Universities Scotland, has also voiced support for revising Scotland’s free tuition model. He advocates for a “compromise” system to ensure the financial sustainability of the higher education sector, suggesting that a review of the free tuition policy for domestic students is necessary to address the growing financial challenges.

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