HC Deb 02 December 1997 vol 302 cc151-2
8. Mr. Chope

What assessment he has made of the impact on Scottish universities of the number of students from England wishing to study at such institutions. [17097]

Mr. Dewar

Cross-border flows of students in both directions can contribute to a healthy diversity of backgrounds in our universities. The proportion of students from England attending Scottish universities varies greatly. In financial terms, English-domiciled students bring with them tuition fees paid for by local education authorities in England, and the remainder of the cost of teaching is met by grant funding from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.

Mr. Chope

I agree with much of what the right hon. Gentleman said, but my commitment to the Union comes from my four years' experience as an undergraduate at a Scottish university. How much would it cost the Department for Education and Employment in England to pay the tuition costs of English students at Scottish universities during their fourth year, thereby enabling them to benefit from the four-year Scottish education as I did and as I know the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Dr. Clark) did at the same time, in the same faculty and at the same university?

Mr. Dewar

I am absolutely delighted that the hon. Gentleman enjoyed his years at Dundee so much. I am sure that he benefited from them, although I would have liked to see further improvement.

As for the hon. Gentleman's question, the cost is variable. As has been explained, the tuition fees apply only to certain students, and getting on for 40 per cent. of them may be exempt. There are, of course, other misunderstandings about that, but, at the end of the day, English students, and, indeed, students from Northern Ireland and Wales, come to Scottish universities because they see advantage in doing so. I hope that they will continue to do so, as they are a very valuable addition to our educational kingdom.