The president of St Andrews Students’ Association is urging the university not to introduce a big increase in fees for undergraduates from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The University Court is due to decide on the level of fees it charges students from other parts of the UK when it meets today (Friday).
Earlier this week, Edinburgh University decided it would charge the maximum fee of £9000 per year. Aberdeen and Herriot Watt Universities have also decided on £9000 per annum but will offer the fourth year free to keep their charges on a par with three year courses south of the border.
But speaking to the Citizen ahead of today’s meeting, St Andrews Student Association president Patrick O’Hare said he hoped the university would not take the “easy option” of charging £9000.
“We don’t want to make St Andrews the most expensive university in the UK,” he explained.
“It costs around £25,000 in fees to go to Oxford or Cambridge. To charge more than that to come to St Andrews would be a step in the wrong direction - back towards an elitist past.
“The buck has been passed by Westminster onto the universities and it shouldn’t now be passed on to students. More than a third of those at St Andrews are from England, Wales or Northern Ireland and it would be taking a huge risk to impose a massive hike in their fees.
“Despite the image, there are a lot of working class students here but that could change if we become the most expensive university in the UK.”
In June, Scottish universities were cleared to set their own fees after those in England got the go-ahead to charge up to £9000 per year for tuition. However, residents of Scotland studying at home will still not pay any fees.
Announcing the plans, Scottish education secretary Mike Russell said Scottish universities could set fees between £1800 and £9000 for other UK students, but said he expected levels to be lower than those south of the border.
A working group set up by the Scottish government and Universities Scotland pointed to an average figure of £6375.
The University and College Union (UCU) has said they are concerned that high fees could “stem the flow” of English students studying north of the border.
UCU Scottish official, Mary Senior, said: ‘Our worst fears that most Scottish universities will ignore the Minister (Mike Russell) and charge the highest possible fee have come to fruition.
‘We call on the Minister to think again about introducing a market for other UK students which will bring chaos to the admissions system for many years to come.”