No fees for EU students starting 2017/18 courses in Scotland
Scotland’s Education Secretary John Swinney has told the SNP conference that students from EU countries starting in 2017/18 would pay no fees.
In July the minister said there would be no change to funding in 2016/17.
Guarantees were being sought by students after the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Mr Swinney also urged the UK government to “guarantee their [students] right to stay here during their studies and work here after their studies”.
He announced the funding pledge during his keynote address to the Glasgow conference, attended by 3,000 delegates.
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The MSP said: “We have already confirmed tuition fee funding to support EU students studying here, or preparing to start this year.
“Now, we will extend that guarantee to those starting next year in 2017/18.
“And, unlike Labour and the Tories, that’s tuition-free education we are guaranteeing – not the massive fees they impose on students wherever they come from.”
He added: “We will guarantee their funding. But what I demand is that the Tory-Brexit government guarantee their right to stay here during the studies and work here after their studies.
“They are not cards to be played. They are human beings.”
Education was a strong theme in Mr Swinney’s speech.
He said his task to “close the attainment gap for our poorest pupils” was simple.
Mr Swinney added: “And our ambition is equally straightforward: we will make significant progress in closing the gap within the next parliament and substantially eliminate it within a decade.
“It may be a simple objective. It may be a straightforward aim. But it will not be easy. We do not underestimate the scale of our ambition.”
He also spoke about the desire to “re-invigorate local government” by “reconnecting it with communities”.
A review is already under way on the role of councils in the delivery of education.
Mr Swinney will now review the relationships between local authorities and health boards.
He said: “We aim to achieve nothing less than to transform our democratic landscape, protect and renew public services and refresh the relationship between citizens, communities and councils.”
“We do this not because it is radical – and it is – but because we believe it is right.
“We do it not because it is easy – it’s not – but because it is in the national interest.
“We believe that national interest lies in placing power in the people of this country’s hands. It is why I believe in independence.”