THE number of EU students accepted on to a university course in Scotland has more than halved in a year, figures reveal.

The latest UCAS statistics show that the percentage of students who live in Europe and were accepted to study at Scottish universities has dropped by 56% when compared to 2020.

And, it is not just in Scotland, as all four nations of the UK saw a significant drop when compared to the year before.

At the same time the number of non-EU students accepted to universities in all four nations showed a noteable rise.

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Scotland, England and Wales have all had the number of EU students applying to study in their nation fall gradually since 2019, but this year has seen the biggest drop.

In Northern Ireland, the number of EU students rose slightly in 2020 but has again fallen.

The National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland have said that the “astronomical fees” EU students now have to pay as a result of Brexit are to blame.

The issue was revealed in UCAS’s statistical daily release on clearing figures. When broken down into the domicile of the student, and only selecting the EU, and the country of the university where they have accepted a place, it becomes clear there is a significant fall in those taking up places across all four UK nations.

For Scotland, in 2021 there were only 1200 EU students accepted on to University places, compared to 2730 in 2020, a 56% drop.

There is a similar trend when you look at the other individual UK nations.

In England, 8430 EU students accepted a place at an English university this year. In 2020 there were 13,140 EU students accepted, a percentage fall of 36%.

The number of EU students accepted into Welsh universities has also more than halved - there were only 250 accepted in 2021, compared to 550 in 2020, a 54% change.

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In Northern Ireland, the nation saw a huge jump in EU students studying there in 2020 from previous years, where on average between 120-150 students were accepted each year between 2012 and 2019. In 2020, there were 360 EU students accepted, but this fell to 210 in 2021, a 42% drop.

NUS Scotland highlighted the issue and said they were not surprised that Brexit was impacting EU students.

Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland president, said: "It’s deeply concerning to see the number of EU students applying to Scottish universities drop again this year.

“It is unsurprising given that EU students are now faced with astronomical fees to access learning in Scotland.

The National:

EU students are no longer entitled to free tuition in Scotland

“NUS Scotland will continue to make the case to protect students from the disastrous impact of the UK government’s hard Brexit agenda.”

Tuition fees in Scotland for international students can range between £9000 and £31,000 per year.

We previously told how applications from the EU from students who want to study at Scottish Universities plummeted by 40% this year.

However, at the same time the number of applicants from non-EU countries rose by 23%.

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This is also reflected in the UCAS figures, with the number of students from non-EU countries taking up places at universities rising in all four nations.

In Scotland this year 3790 non-EU students have accepted university places, compared to 2410 in 2020, a 58% rise.

For England, there were 33,320 non-EU students accepted in 2021, compared to 18,780 in 2020, a 77% jump.

The trend continues in Wales where there were 980 non-EU students taking a university place in 2021, in 2020 this was 530, a rise of 86%. 

And in Northern Ireland, there were 280 non-EU students given a place in 2021, compared to 170 in 2020, a 68% jump.

The SNP have criticised the figures and echoed NUS Scotland’s concerns that EU students are being priced out of a higher education in Scotland.

The National:

SNP MSP Clare Adamson (pictured) said: “Yet again we see the opportunities of young people being squeezed by the Tory UK government and their Brexit obsession.

“Not only are European students losing out on studying at some of the best universities in the world, but students in Scotland are missing out on the diversity and learning experience that comes from students who come from other countries.

“The Tories will try and hide behind the pandemic, but the truth is that applications from non-EU countries such as China and the USA have increased compared to last year. The blame lies solely with the Tories and Brexit.”

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The Scottish Government announced with a “heavy heart” that they would end free university tuition fees for EU students in July 2020.

EU students - as remains the case for students who live in Scotland - were eligible for free tuition since fees were scrapped.

However, after Brexit the Scottish Government was no longer obliged to cover the costs for students from EU nations.