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NUS calls for student number controls for English-domiciled students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to be overturned

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Responding to the UK government’s announcement that universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would have the same student number controls placed on them, for English-domiciled-students, as English providers, student leaders from across the UK have called for the policy to be urgently overturned.

The process has not involved any consultation with those that it will affect most in the devolved administrations and  has undermined the core principles of devolution. The approach will risk the financial sustainability of the higher education sector by limiting the pool of students that they are able to recruit from and restricts the options of students in England.

Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS President, Liam McCabe, NUS Scotland President, Robert Murtagh, NUS-USI President and Erica Ramos, NUS Vice President (Union Development) said -

“With yesterday’s announcement the UK government has made a mockery of devolution. Limiting the number of English students that can live and study in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland delivers yet more uncertainty for students and institutions. The policy must be overturned immediately and their must be a process of consultation with the devolved governments moving forwards.

“Students are already facing a vastly different university experience next year, and this approach will augment the challenges students are bound to face by restricting their opportunities in the education system.

“The lack of consultation with the devolved governments on this policy is completely unjustifiable and fails to acknowledge the potentially devastating impact on both students and institutions in the nations for years to come.

“Devolved governments are already facing an uphill battle to protect students and institutions from the effects of COVID-19. With universities in Scotland, Wales and NI trying to overcome the challenge of declining revenue in multiple areas this approach will only exacerbate the financial crisis being felt across the higher education sectors of the UK.

“The message from the nations is clear: a collaborative approach to higher education that respects devolution and policy divergence is needed to safeguard students and institutions across the UK. The approach announced today fails to meet that need, undermines the mandates of Holyrood, the Senedd and Stormont and demonstrates a callous disregard for devolution itself.”


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