Scotland will offer free tuition to hundreds of migrant students who have lived in the UK for three years and have been granted leave to remain, following a landmark legal ruling that the previous rules breached human rights.Embed from Getty Images
The Scottish government announced the policy change on Wednesday, after a court case brought by Ola Jasim, an Iraq-born student who had been living in Scotland since she was 11 but was denied free tuition because she was two months short of the 10-year residency requirement.
The Court of Session ruled in her favor in 2022, finding that the regulations were unlawful in light of articles in the European Convention on Human Rights relating to discrimination and the right to education.
Ms. Jasim, who is now studying medicine at Dundee University, said she was “overjoyed” by the decision and hoped it would help other students in similar situations.
“I’m so grateful to everyone who supported me throughout this journey. It was a long and stressful process, but I’m glad it paid off in the end,” she said.
The new policy will apply from the 2023/24 academic year and will also cover unaccompanied children who are asylum seekers and the children of asylum seekers.
Higher and Further Education Minister Graeme Dey said: “Scotland has a strong track record in supporting our young people. I recognize the impact that any delay to an asylum claim can have on a young person’s education journey and I hope the changes set out here will go some way to address that.”Embed from Getty Images
He added that the changes would mean that all students, other than excepted groups, must now meet the same length of residence in the UK – three years – to access support.
The move was welcomed by human rights groups and education campaigners, who said it would remove barriers for migrant students and promote social inclusion.
However, some critics argued that the policy was unfair to Scottish taxpayers and could encourage more migration to Scotland.
University of Edinburgh principal and vice-chancellor Sir Peter Mathieson had said allowing wealthier families to pay was “worthy of calm consideration”.
He argued the move could prevent a brain drain from Scotland.
The first minister said he was “very proud” of the SNP’s opposition to tuition fees.
- Free tuition fees extended to migrant students – BBC News | BBC | December, 15, 2023
- Scotland to offer free tuition to migrant students after court ruling – The Guardian | The Guardian | December, 16, 2023
- Migrant students win right to free tuition in Scotland – The Times | The Times | December, 17, 2023