Teenage girl faces giving up on architect dream due to £27k Edinburgh university fees

The University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh
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A bright teenage girl hoping to train as an architect spoke of her dismay at facing £27,000-a-year tuition fees - despite having lived in Scotland for six years.

Bota McCormack, 17, was born in Kazakhstan, but her mother Aida is married to a Scot, stepfather Stewart McCormack.

A protest is held at the David Hume building at the heart of the University of Edinburgh

A protest is held at the David Hume building at the heart of the University of Edinburgh

The family moved to Coylton, South Ayrshire, in 2013 from Kazakhstan where Mr McCormack had worked in the oil industry.

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Ms McCormack has a biometric residence permit and is halfway through a 'long residence', which takes ten years before she can apply for 'settled' status - meaning she can remain in the UK without any time restrictions.

The dedicated student, who is predicted As and Bs in her highers at Kyle Academy in Ayr has been given an unconditional offer to study at Edinburgh Napier University and a conditional offer from the University of Edinburgh.

But the fees she faces after being classified as an 'international' student mean she may have to give up her dream of studying architecture.

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Ms McCormack said: "We've all applied at the same time and are hearing back, but it's really disappointing I can't be as excited as other people get their offers back.

"It's just a shame.

"I've worked just as hard and can't follow the career I want to do.

"My mum's really upset as well.

"She wants the best education and career for me but it's just backfired - everybody's stressed out.

"All my predicted grades are As and Bs, so the exams shouldn't be a problem. I try my best."

Fees at the University of Edinburgh would stack up to £27,000 a year, according to the family, while Edinburgh Napier University fees were said to be 'around £15,000 a year'.

Mr McCormack, 44, said: "There's a number of complications.

"The main problem seems to be the visa application process.

"It's taken an entire decade, despite the fact that she's settled here and is completing her schooling here.

"I've done as much as I could by speaking to universities in terms of overturning the decision but it seems to be quite black and white, 'it's not completed so we can't do anything'.

"It's called a settled status and started it in 2014.

"It used to take three to five years maximum, but we've been caught up in this trap where it's taking double the time.

"It's quite frustrating and it's going to have an effect on her education.

"She wanted to do her architectural course but now she's having to look at other things.

"She has the qualifications.

"She got unconditional offers from Edinburgh and Napier."

Having unsuccessfully appealed to the universities, Mr McCormack has arranged a meeting with local MP Allan Dorans to discuss Ms McCormack's case.

The family are also hoping Ms McCormack could get accepted for a scholarship, which would mean they wouldn't have to shell out tens of thousands in tuition fees.

Mr McCormack said: "When the unis came back to us they said they could only accept them as an international student.

"That was just in the last few weeks.

"Edinburgh want £27,000 a year and Napier want around £15,000 - it's mental.

"The fact we need to wait this long for settled status is bonkers.

"I've managed to contact some politicians to see what other options we have.

"I've got two mortgages and myself and her mother both work.

"Bota has two part-time jobs alongside her schooling and also has a national insurance number.

"I don't know why it's affecting us to this extent.

"The next step is to apply for scholarships or apply to SAAS to see what funding we can get."

The Home Office has been approached for comment.