SB 14-37 Tuition Fees: charging UK students to study in an independent Scotland

The White Paper: Scotland’s Future states that, following independence, the Scottish Government would continue the current policy of charging students resident in the rest of the UK to study at Scottish higher education institutions. Students resident in Scotland and those resident in other EU member states would continue to access fee free tuition. The White Paper suggests that an “objective justification” could be provided in the event of any challenge from the European Commission.


The Scottish Government is committed to an independent Scotland joining the European Union (EU). In this event, Scotland would be a separate member state of the EU to the rest of the UK. This briefing provides information about EU law, as it is currently set out in EU Treaties, legislation and associated case law, regarding the treatment of higher education students when moving from one member state to another to access higher education. It also considers the use of an “objective justification” for treating students resident in the rest of the UK differently from Scottish and other EU member state residents. It does not consider changes to EU law that may be pursued in future and how these could change how EU member states treat students moving to other member states to access higher education

Read SPICe briefing:

Published: 23 May 2014

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