EU student numbers at Scotland's universities double

The number of EU students studying at Scotland's universities has almost doubled since 2006, new figures show.

University student numbers are on the rise in Scotland with EU nationals accounting for the largest increase. PIC Ian Georgeson.

EU nationals now account for the largest rise in student numbers in higher education in Scotland, a briefing from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) said.

There were 13,312 EU nationals studying at a Higher Education Institution (HEI) in Scotland during the 2014/2015 academic year - up from 6,738 in 2006/2007.

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More EU students came from Bulgaria than anywhere else, with 1,494 nationals studying at one of Scotland’s universities during 2014/2015, separate figures from the Scottish Funding Council show.

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Scots students ‘losing out to EU counterparts”

Scotland was also a popular choice with students from Ireland (1,123), Germany (1,154), Lithuania (1,029), France (904) and Sweden (731).

Business and administration was the most popular subject amongst EU students along with biological sciences, engineering, computer sciences and creative arts and design.

EU students are afforded the same rights as their Scottish counterparts and pay no tuition fees to study here.

Following the Brexit result in June, education secretary John Swinney pledged continued funding for EU nationals due to start their studies in Scotland this year.

“We will continue to discuss with universities and students the impact of the referendum result and how we can all ensure Scotland’s universities remain attractive, competitive and diverse,” a Scottish Government spokeswoman said.

Universities Scotland called on the Scottish Government to provide “as much certainty as it can” on the fees status of EU students applying for entry in 2017.

Director Alastair Sim said: “Brexit is causing a great of uncertainty for EU staff and students in our universities and for the universities themselves as policy and funding decisions are left unresolved.”