Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Tuition fee proposals 'are lawful'

The Scottish Government is trying to find a way to charge students from the rest of the EU

The Scottish Government has defended its policy of charging tuition fees to students from the rest of the UK following reports that a human rights lawyer intends to mount a legal challenge.

Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, is reportedly preparing to argue that the policy breaches discrimination rules under the European Convention on Human Rights, and may also breach the UK Equality Act.

Under EU rules governments are not allowed to discriminate against students from any other EU state.

Scotland is not an EU state but a region within the UK.

The Scottish Government maintains that EU rules do not apply to different policies within member states.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We are clear that the proposals set out are lawful. Tuition fee arrangements are based on 'ordinary domicile', not nationality.

"In an ideal world, no students would pay fees. Our main priority has to be to protect opportunities for Scottish students to study at Scottish institutions by maintaining free education north of the border.

"With the UK Government introducing tuition fees south of the border of up to £9,000 per annum, Scottish students studying in England will continue to receive financial support in the form of bursaries and loans."

The spokeswoman added that there was no record of any correspondence by Mr Shiner regarding his challenge.

The Scottish Government is also trying to find a way to charge students from the rest of the EU. One option that has been suggested is to charge EU students a "service charge" similar to Ireland.

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