Minister urges rethink on Westminster’s English student cap

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead will raise concerns with UK Universities Minister on Monday.

The Scottish Government has urged Westminster to reconsider a cap on English students at Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish universities.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead will raise concerns on Monday about the UK Government’s plans to cap student numbers.

In a call with UK Universities Minister Michelle Donelan, he will urge her to rethink the proposal, which has not been discussed with the devolved administrations.

Westminster claimed the measures were to bring some stability to English universities.

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Mr Lochhead, who also wrote to Ms Donelan about the issue over the weekend, will stress that to introduce the policy at this late stage would be disruptive and unreasonable.

Mr Lochhead said: “Like many other sectors, universities are facing significant challenges as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Devolved administrations and the UK Government should be working together to address these common issues.

“Yet here we have UK ministers, without any consultation, planning to erect barriers that would pile further difficulties upon Scottish universities, as well as those in Wales and Northern Ireland.

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“Our universities in Scotland have a fabulous reputation throughout these islands and the world and I’m not surprised they find the idea of UK ministers trying to stop English students attending universities elsewhere in the UK abhorrent, particularly at this time.

“I welcome the offer of a further discussion on this issue and will use the opportunity today to press the UK minister to urgently reconsider this proposal so we can instead work together to deal with the impact of Covid-19 on our sectors.”