When Alex Salmond stepped down as First Minister, he famously unveiled a commemorative stone engraved with the message ‘The rocks will melt with the sun before I allow tuition fees to be imposed on Scottish students.’ If he wants to see melting, he should go to the UCAS website and look at the courses up for grabs in the clearing system – then change the settings to say you’re Scottish. The courses melt away. (For example, here is the English version of Glasgow University clearing courses: law, history, all sorts of gems. And here is the Scottish version).
Why the difference? Because England’s students bring fees. As a direct result opportunities are created for them – even in Scotland. Scottish Universities have freedom to create as many places for England’s students as they like. The number of places for Scots is capped by the Scottish government because each Scottish student* costs it money. As ever, when the state pays for something it is rationed. If people pay themselves then supply grows.
The SNP decided that Scottish students would not carry fees, and as a direct result they have less opportunity. Even in Scotland.
And how much less opportunity? Here’s a brief summary as of 17 August 2018.
The University of Edinburgh
For Scotland’s students: 5 courses.
For England’s students: 70 courses. Including Applied Mathematics, Biological Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, and Structural Engineering with Architecture.
University of Glasgow
For Scotland’s students: 4 courses.
For England’s students: 332 courses. Including Chemistry, Celtic Civilisation/History, Chemical Physics with work placement, Common Law, Common Law and Economics, French, History, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Human Biology, Geology, Molecular & Cellular Biology (with Biotechnology), English Literature, Product Design Engineering, Classics, German, and Zoology.
The University of Aberdeen
For Scotland’s students: Nothing.
For England’s students: 373 courses. Including Accountancy, Applied Mathematics, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computing Science, Economics and Finance, Engineering (Mechanical), History, Law with English Law, Molecular Biology with Industrial Placement, Physics, and – remarkably – Scottish Studies.
University of Strathclyde
For Scotland’s students: Nothing.
For England’s students: 325 courses. Including Accounting, Biochemistry, Business, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Data Analytics, Economics, English, Finance, French, German, History, Human Resource Management, Italian, Law (Scots), Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Physics, Primary Education, Product Design Engineering, Psychology, Social Work, Spanish and Sports Engineering.
University of Dundee
For Scotland’s students: 18 courses.
For England’s students: 220. Including Architecture, Biology, Civil Engineering, Economics, English, Geography, History, Maths, Philosophy, Physics, Politics, and even… Scottish Historical Studies.
Are you Scottish, and is your dream degree in Scotland only available for English students? Feel free to send on your complaints to Nicola Sturgeon.
* Scottish students and EU students are treated the same: they don’t pay fees, but numbers on places for them is (as a result) capped. Students in the rest of the UK do pay fees, so places for them are unlimited: it makes financial sense for universities to expand courses where they can make money. The invisible hand, as a Glasgow alumnus once put it.