Brexit could force Scots studying in Europe to return without degree: minister

Hundreds of Scots studying in Europe could be forced to cut their education short and come home after Brexit, a Holyrood minister has warned.

Higher education minister Richard Lochhead said the issue is one of the “immediate challenges” the Scottish Government is considering as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

To those students who could be affected, he pledged the Scottish Government would provide support and tuition fee funding to allow them to continue their studies in Scotland.

“That is a guarantee you can bank on in these uncertain times,” Mr Lochhead said.

He made the commitment as he gave a statement to the Scottish Parliament on how Brexit would impact on further and higher education.

The minister said: “Depending on if, and how, the UK leaves the EU,  UK citizens studying for full degrees in the EU may suddenly find themselves liable for international student fees, medical care and travel insurance.

“Our estimates suggest hundreds of students from Scotland may be affected.

“Facing untenable increases in costs, many of these students – perhaps even the vast majority – may have to simply just come back to Scotland.

“Their studies cut short. No degree awarded and their dreams in ruins.

“All because of a Brexit that Scotland didn’t vote for.

Higher education minister Richard Lochhead (David Cheskin/PA)

“The Scottish Government has been urgently working with the sector to prepare for students who may return to Scotland and to minimise any disruption to their studies.

“The Student Awards Agency for Scotland has provided clear information and guidance for students on their website, which will help guide them in transferring to a Scottish institution, if that becomes necessary.”

Mr Lochhead also sought to reassure affected students, telling them: “If you left Scotland to study in the EU, and Brexit means you are forced to give up your studies, we guarantee to provide student support and tuition fees to eligible students so you can study here in Scotland.”

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