Scottish universities have been given the freedom to set tuition fees of up to pound;9,000 per year for students from the rest of the UK in a bid to protect Scottish student places from fee refugees from south of the border.
The Education Secretary, Michael Russell, told the Scottish Parliament this week that primary legislation would be introduced to ensure that fees for other UK students would be capped at pound;9,000 from 2013-14 onwards. Scottish students will continue to pay nothing in tuition fees, he said.
Universities Scotland has agreed voluntarily to comply with this upper limit for 2012-13, the date from which Scottish universities will be allowed to introduce the charge.
A spokesperson for the body said the Government's decision to introduce fees for rest-of-UK students had been a tough choice, but the right one.
Mr Russell said he expected the average fee in Scotland to be lower than in England, given that an average figure of pound;6,375 was used by the joint Scottish Government and Universities Scotland technical working group.
He continues to explore the feasibility of setting a management fee for EU students to comply with EU law, which requires them to pay the same fees as home students.
"University recruitment drives have now started. Today, we are providing clarity for potential students from the rest of the UK that making the positive choice to study in Scotland will not cost more than it does in their home nation," he added.
NUS Scotland accused the Government of hypocrisy.
"The SNP rejected a market in tuition fees for Scottish students prior to the election, only to introduce one immediately after for students from the rest of the UK. This seems incredibly unfair, especially when the SNP has talked so much about the importance of access to university based on ability, not ability to pay," said Robin Parker, president-elect.