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The director of the outgoing university warns about the funding of places for students

The outgoing director of the University of Dundee warned that foreign students can not be seen as "cash cows" to support education superior in Scotland.

Professor Sir Pete Downes, 65, will officially retire as director and vice-chancellor of the university next week

Since his arrival in 1989, he has gained worldwide recognition in several fields and is considered to offer one of the best experiences of students in the United Kingdom.

However, Professor Downes cautions that universities face "overlapping" threats from Brexit and student funding in the coming years, and has urged the Scottish government to re-analyze its funding formula.

Currently, Scottish and EU students do not pay tuition fees, although universities do receive tuition for each student of the Scottish Funding Council.

Students from other parts of the United Kingdom pay around £ 9,000 a year in tuition fees, while there is no limit on fees charged to students from other parts of the United Kingdom.

Professor Downes said Dundee's growing global reputation had helped him offset the cuts in funding and it would be crucial to keep the university going in the future.

He said: "The main challenge for universities in my time as the main one has been the effect of austerity on the public budget. The only real source of growth of net income for universities in Scotland is the recruitment of students abroad.

"We receive fees for Scottish students, but the level of that fee is currently and has been for some time less than the cost of the education we provide to those students.

" The level of the fee must be completed by the highest fees we can charge for our international reputation, but it is all too easy to see foreign students as a source of cash – in fact, they are a source of diversity and enhance and enrich everyone's experience. "

He said that the perception that foreign students are paying for Scottish places ran the risk of creating a schism in the university community.

He said: "We have to work very hard to make people feel welcome. That's why the Scottish government must carefully analyze the funding of its own students and not simply allow foreign students to become self-sufficient. cash [

"The Scottish government has a strong and positive culture regarding the value we place on Europe, the value we place on international relations and connections and, undoubtedly, values ​​students internationals for what they contribute to our culture, but they do not. Do not look at it through the prism I do. "

Professor Downes, who was named director in 2009, added:" People say that the university feels like a true community. "

"Our strategy for the next five years is for communities to function even in difficult circumstances, demonstrating that they share common goals."

"The other thing about that is successful communities, and this also brings the Brexit problem , are diverse, non-homogeneous communities.

"I think that has escaped the attention of those who seem to think that immigration and things like that are fundamentally bad and should be restrained."

"Universities certainly thrive by being able to recruit talent from a group We have staff from more than 50 different counties and more than 10% of our staff is from the EU.

"It is very important that we maintain that access."

Professor Andrew Atherton will succeed Professor Downes as director and vice chancellor on January 1.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: "We agree with Professor Downes about the importance of foreign students at Scottish universities. They help make our institutions the diverse and vibrant places that is such a massive force of Scottish higher education.

"That is why we are extremely proud that Scotland is the destination chosen by so many foreign students who make a great contribution to Scottish life."

"We are committed to ensuring that this remains the case as we explore all the ways to protect our relationship with the EU.

"The biggest problem faced by foreign students in Scotland is the uncertainty caused by the fact that the UK government has not immediately guaranteed the immigration status and rights of EU citizens currently living in Scotland. they will not change in the future. "

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