Edinburgh University in Scotland said it may charge annual tuition of £9,000 ($14,500) for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland -- or £36,000 ($58,000) for a four-year degree -- which would make it the most expensive school in the United Kingdom.
The National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland was outraged by the proposed tuition hike, calling it both staggering and ridiculous.
Graeme Kirkpatrick, deputy president of NUS Scotland, commented to BBC: “The average cost to study at Oxford and Cambridge [for four years] is around £25,000 in fees, which while still eye-wateringly large, pales in comparison with this.”
Kilpatrick added: And that's before you add additional debt for the extra year of living costs for the four-year degree in Scotland. This is nothing less than cashing in on students from the rest of the UK, and giving the signal that Edinburgh University is more interested in the money you can bring, as opposed to your academic ability. The reputational damage this could do, not only to Edinburgh but to the whole of Scottish higher education, should not be underestimated.
Two other Scottish universities, Aberdeen and Heriot-Watt, have already established maximum level fees for rest of UK (RUK) residents, although they plan to cap their fees at a maximum of £27,000 for the four-year course.
Currently most Scots universities charge annual fees of about £1,800 for most degrees, according to BBC.
Mary Senior, Scottish official of the University and College Union, also expressed her dismay.
We are disappointed that Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh universities are to set headline fees at the highest level, leaving students paying more to study in Scotland than even in England,: she said.
Though Edinburgh are offering bursaries most students won't qualify for these so that only the wealthiest will consider Edinburgh an option. Our worst fears that most Scottish universities will ignore the minister and charge the highest possible fee have come to fruition.
Residents of Scotland do not pay tuition fees at Scottish universities – and the Scottish National Party (SNP) aim to keep it this way.
A Scottish Government spokesman stated: It is up to individual universities to manage and set their fee levels for students from the rest of the UK, bearing in mind the need to be competitive and attractive to a broad range of students. It is in their interests, as well as Scotland's, that we maintain the cosmopolitan character of our student population at the same time as making sure that opportunities for students who live in Scotland are protected.
The move by Scottish universities come after the British government decided to raise the cap on tuition fees to £9,000.
Professor Mary Bownes, vice principal for external engagement at the University of Edinburgh, defended the higher tuitions.
More than 50 percent of additional tuition fee income will go towards bursaries with the remainder going towards enhancing the student experience,” she told BBC.
There will also be a major new internally-funded scheme for access and accommodation bursaries for Scottish domiciled students.
She added: The increase in the fee is necessary as we will no longer receive government funding for RUK-domiciled students. These students will be studying at one of the world's top teaching and research institutions, regularly ranked amongst the leading universities in the world.