Students launched an occupation of the gardens outside the offices of the president of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews early this morning, protesting skyrocketing tuition fees.
Scottish tuition rates aren’t just high, they’re also bizarrely structured. Scotland’s universities are free for Scottish students, and free for European Union residents under EU rules that say that member state universities can’t charge more for other EU nationals than they do for locals.
But the rest of Britain isn’t subject to those rules, weirdly, so English, Welsh, and Northern Irish students, falling between the “free for Glaswegians” category and the “free for Latvians” categories, are charged high fees.
At St. Andrews those fees amount to £9,000 a year, which is $14,000 in American money. According to the organizers of today’s protest, that makes the university the most expensive in all of Europe — for those students who pay anything at all.
The high fees for “RUK” (rest of UK) students in Scotland were introduced this summer in reaction to massive fee hikes in English universities. The Scottish government defended the move as an effort to keep Scotland’s universities from being swamped with “fee refugees” from the rest of Britain.