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Clarity for students over immigration needed

Published: 30 Nov 2016 15:15

Call to UK Government to provide reassurance.

The UK Government must stop undermining the reputation of Scotland’s universities and instead make clear overseas students are welcome and valued in Scotland and the UK,  Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell said today.

Mr Russell said higher education institutions have thrived as a result of the contribution made by EU and non-EU nationals undertaking courses and carrying out research in Scotland.

He said the UK Government must not be allowed to undermine Scotland’s world-class university sector and should listen to academic leaders who are sounding the alarm over the damaging rhetoric and policy on overseas students and immigration.

Speaking to students and staff at Queen Margaret University, Mr Russell said:

“Scotland is a destination of choice for EU students, and students from across the world,  attracted by our world renowned universities.

“But the UK Government must not be allowed to undermine Scotland’s vital university sector through its actions and rhetoric on EU freedom of movement and its attitude towards overseas students.

“Earlier this month the vice-chancellor of Sheffield University said he was “truly ashamed” after accompanying the Prime Minister on her recent visit to India.

“He said people in India felt insulted by an attitude that said we want their money but are unwilling to teach their children.”

Mr Russell also raised the issue of EU students studying in Scotland:    

“The Scottish Government has taken action to guarantee the fee status of all current EU students and those beginning an undergraduate course in 2017.  These students will pay no tuition fees.

“Understandably, EU students require the reassurance from the UK Government that the immigration status and rights of EU nationals living in Scotland will not change after Brexit.

“However, the continued refusal by the UK Government to give these assurances is deeply concerning.

“The Scottish Government will do everything we can to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, retain free movement of people and stay in the single market.”