Published on December 5th, 2013 | by Flipside0
University bracing itself for Eastern European influx
With the temporary cap on Bulgarian and Romanian immigration into the UK expiring on December 31st, Edinburgh University is preparing itself for an unprecedented number of undergraduate applicants from the two EU member states in the new year.
The EU mandated removal of restrictions has however divided opinion in Scotland. Alex Salmond has welcomed the move, seeing the increased competition for places as yet another opportunity to further restrict English access to Scottish higher education. Salmond’s backing for the removal of immigration restrictions is also seen as a goodwill gesture in an attempt to cement plans for forming a currency union with the Romanian Leu as a backup measure to the proposed Sterling union if Scotland gains independence.
Support for unrestricted student immigration is not unanimous, with widespread fears at Edinburgh University that new Bulgarian and Romanian arrivals will lead to rising student accommodation prices and an increase in bursary claimants. The Chancellor of Edinburgh University, resolutely opposed to all handouts apart from the estimated £52 million given to the Royal Family each year, has predicted that the increased financial burden on the university to support thousands of Eastern Europeans on benefits will lead to “the Water of Leith foaming with much blood”. However, contentious plans to prevent Bulgarian and Romanian students from applying for bursaries during the first six months of their studies have come under fire, with one well known EU commissioner condemning the university for being “a bit nasty”.
With the expected increase in Eastern European students almost certainly displacing the Scandinavian contingent as the largest single foreign group at the university, Peter’s Yard has already planned on accommodating this seismic shift by changing its name from January of next year to ‘Petra’s Yard’. The move is predicted to lead to the disbandment of the Scandinavian society, which will no longer be able to use the locale to host its waffle making socials.
EUSA has also already made contingency plans in anticipation of the arrival of thousands of Eastern European students at the start of the 2014/15 academic year. This week Vice President Kirsty Haigh tabled a motion proposing ‘EUSA is a Bulgarian’.