Another independence question: who would pay tuition fees?

With the independence debate heating up the next big question is on the legality of charging UK students for tuition fees in Scotland.

Alex Salmond has claimed that even if Scotland becomes independent students from the rest of the UK will still be charged tuition fees, but his statement has been challenged on its legality.

Edinburgh could have no fee-paying EU students

Currently as part of the UK, Scotland is in the European Union and are subject to the Union regulations on discrimination. The regulation requires members of other member states to be treated the same as nationals. This makes it illegal for Scottish Universities to charge students from other member states to study in Scotland. However, being part of the same member state with a different education as England and Wales there are no restrictions on Scotland charging students from south of the border. Got it?

If Scotland becomes independent it may become an independent member state (a whole other debate entirely) and if so it would be required by Union Law to treat all students from other member states (including the UK) the same way as Scottish students and if free tuition continues for Scottish students then it would have to be extended to all member states including the rest of the UK. Well that doesn’t sound too bad.

The White Paper has caused considerable debate

However, the Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence proposed to keep the current scheme (aka £9000 a year) and a spokesperson claimed, “The White Paper is consistent with, and informed by, legal advice the government has received”.

This debate comes as yet another branch of confusion in the building debate surrounding September’s Referendum.