Applicants for the 2017-18 academic year have had their right to free tuition confirmed until they graduate, up to two years after the UK is set to leave the European Union.
Under EU law, European nationals studying in Scotland must be offered the same terms as domestic students, meaning their tuition fees are covered by the taxpayer – despite those from the rest of the UK having to pay up to £9,000. The news follows a commitment this week from the UK government to keep funding arrangements the same for EU students arriving in Scotland next year.
Mr Swinney said: “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 also demanded that power over issuing post-study work visas be devolved to Scotland, ahead of an appearance by an Australian family threatened with deportation until a last-minute job offer gave them a reprieve. Gregg and Kathryn Brain came to the UK expecting to apply for a post-study work visa when the scheme was axed.
To a standing ovation, Mr Brain told SNP conference delegates: “Scotland, it is good to be here.”