Saturday 4 June 2016

President of EU-funded university warns EU citizens won't be able to afford his courses when he doubles their fees

The president of University College London (UCL) has joined Project Fear, claiming that UK universities could lose tens of millions of pounds when we leave the EU.

Professor Arthur's logic takes a bit of getting your head round so pay attention.

Universities in the UK have lots of students from the EU and EU law requires universities to treat them as if they were UK citizens. That means that in England they only have to pay the £9k university tax, £6k in Northern Ireland, £3k in Wales and nothing in Scotland rather that the international rate. It also means they have to have the same access to grants and loans. Professor Arthur says that when we leave the EU EU students might not be able to afford the international rates which can be as high as £32k a year at his university.

There are a few flaws in Professor Arthur's logic.

Whilst the university tax is limited by law for UK and EU citizens, universities are free to charge whatever they want to other international students. Here's the big flaw in his logic. If his university wants to carry on charging EU citizens £9k a year after we leave the EU they're perfectly entitled to do that. There's nothing forcing them to charge EU citizens more than they charge an English student.

In Scotland, where the taxpayer foots the bill for any Scottish or EU citizen, only 60% of students are Scots. There are thousands of EU citizens studying for free in Scottish universities, every one of them costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds.

EU citizens have also failed to repay £43m of taxpayer-funded loans given to them to pay the university tax by disappearing back home when they've finished studying. However, if Professor Arthur's university or any other university in the UK wants to offer loans to EU citizens so they can afford to study at their university then there is absolutely nothing stopping them doing that. They won't have the bank of the taxpayer to subsidise them when their students do a bunk but if they're that valuable it's surely a price worth paying.

UCL have received over 100 EU Research Council grants and has participated in over 650 EU-funded projects, totalling tens of millions of pounds.