SHE was born in Fife, lives in Edinburgh and dreams of being a teacher, but a Scots student desperate for tuition fee funding has had her pleas rejected – because she lived in England for three years.
Fiona Gibson has been told she has to pay for her own university fees – despite the fact that all Scots students fees are paid for by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland.
The 26-year-old had to take out a £1,820 loan from Student Finance England to begin her PGDE Primary school degree at Edinburgh University, which she will have to pay back with interest.
Fiona slammed SAAS for revoking her ‘Scottish’ status, adding that Irish students have their fees paid by the same agency under an EU agreement.
She said: “I have been told that I an not a Scottish citizen anymore – which is ridiculous.“I would return to Scotland every holiday period.
“I have hardly been out of Scotland and there are a lot of people from Ireland in the course who are getting their tuition fees paid.
“I have always been really proud to be Scottish and to have this thrown in my face is really disappointing.
“What does this mean – am I an English citizen now?”
Fiona spent a year in the theatre business in London, before working as a teaching assistant in Wimbledon for two years.
She returned to Scotland to find she is no longer eligible for funding because she lived in England.
Fiona said she had considered quitting the course after her appeal was rejected.
She explained that a third of the 280 students on her course are Irish, many of which she says will return to Ireland after their degree.
But Fiona says unlike many of her colleagues she will settle in Scotland, saying: “My fiancé has got a job working for NHS Scotland so I feel like we are both trying to make our mark towards Scotland and settling down here, but SAAS won’t support us.”
A spokeswoman for SAAS said: “Eligibility for tuition fee support is determined by a prospective student’s place of ordinary residence, not their nationality.
“In this case because the student was resident in England for the three years before starting her course, she was eligible for fee loan support from Student Finance England, not support from SAAS.
“In relation to students from Ireland, under European law, we must pay tuition fees for EU students studying in Scotland.”