THERE is “considerable anger” over the Conservative Government’s plan to limit the number of students from England who can attend university in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK Government wants to cap the number of undergraduates universities in England can teach from 2020-2021 – and will announce on Monday that it will also cap the number of English students heading outside of England to receive higher education.

Scotland’s minister for higher education Richard Lochhead said: “We do not support these proposals and they should not apply to Scotland.

“That view is widely shared within the Scottish higher education sector, given this proposal came like a bolt out of the blue this week with no consultation generating considerable anger.

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“Putting up barriers that stop students going to Scottish universities is in principle wrong and at this late stage is disruptive and unreasonable.”

Scotland does not charge tuition fees for students based in the country attending its universities, but students from England must pay £9250 per year.

Meanwhile a Welsh source told The Guardian that the Department of Education’s move was “trampling on devolution”.

The National: Richard Lochhead addresses the crowd

Richard Lochhead said the Scottish Government does not support the proposals

The nation’s education minister for Wales Kirsty Williams wrote to the Department of Education’s universities minister, Michelle Donelan. Williams said: “I am deeply concerned that you have chosen to place a control on Welsh institutions rather than work with the Welsh government to achieve a solution that is compatible with devolution.

“I do not believe this approach [is] in the best interests of the UK as a whole, and demonstrates a surprising unwillingness to respect complementary policies in each nation.”

She went on: “My chief concern is to protect the interests of Welsh students and Welsh higher education institutions. I will consider the consequences for Wales arising from the UK Government’s policy and take further action to ensure that those interests are protected.”

The Department of Education said its aim is to bring stability to the higher education sector during “an incredibly difficult time”. The Covid-19 lockdown has closed campuses and prompted questions over how classes can begin safely with social distancing measures in place.

A spokesperson for the department said: “We will shortly be setting out further details on how the student number controls will be implemented, including how they will work in the devolved administrations.”