Edinburgh University is set to become the first Scottish university to openly announce that it will rise its fees for English students to £36,000 a year with other universities including Glasgow and St Andrews set to follow in the footsteps of the nation's capital university, although no figures have been released from these universities.
Critics have once again accused Scottish universities of deliberately pricing English students out of their system at a time where English students are being forced to pay record fees south of the border. The fees will only apply to English, Northern Irish and Welsh undergraduates with Scots being exempt from the rise, according to the Daily Mail.
While it is natural for Scotland's older universities to wish to increase their fees to English students to the maximum permissible, Edinburgh University has defended its decision by claiming that it would offset its fees with generous £6.7m a year bursaries for non-Scottish students from lower income families or those who show exceptional academic ability.
"The increase in the fee is necessary as we will no longer receive government funding for the rest of the UK domiciled students. These students will be studying at one of the world's top teaching and research institutions, regularly ranked amongst the leading universities in the world," Professor Mary Bownes, the university's vice chancellor for external engagement said.
The average cost to study at Cambridge University is around £25,000 which pales in comparison to the fees that students will have to pay north of the border. It will come as a real blow to English students as they Scottish universities have risen dramatically up the university league tables in recent years. In the 2012 rankings published by the Guardian, St Andrews sits in third place, Edinburgh occupies 16th, Glasgow is 21st and Strathclyde comes in in 29th place.
As reported by the Guardian, Scottish students will not have to pay the £9,000 a year a year fees because of a loophole in European laws, however that decision is expected to be challenged in the English courts by English students.
The Scotsman reports that the bursary system means the cost to many students will be significantly less which will be available to low income families to help offset fees writes Simon Jennings, Deputy Director of Universities Scotland
The University and College Union (UCU) said it had concerns that setting the variable fee at the highest level would "stem the flow" of English students, leading to a loss of the funds that universities are attempting to maximise.
Universities north of the Border are being allowed to charge undergraduates from the rest of the UK from 2012, after the Scottish Government removed their funding following the introduction of higher rate fees in England.