No fees? No way
Scotland is the only country in the UK with no tuition fees for university students. Wales and Northern Ireland both have fees in the £3,000-£4,000 range, which seem reasonable to me.
I attended university in the 1960s when there were no fees and students got grants when their parents’ incomes were below a certain level. This was financially possible since only about 5 per cent of school leavers went to university.
This has increased to about 50 per cent, including previous polytechnics, now elevated to university status. This is a ridiculous level which is well in excess of requirements for students educated to degree standard and is unsustainable in terms of funding.
All this has to be paid for and part of this is coming from swinging cuts of close to 20 per cent for local colleges such as Borders College in Galashiels, where classes have been cut and staff reduced.
This has lessened the chances of the young in particular of getting a job, with fewer courses to help them get qualifications.
Evening classes have been similarly hit, with my Scottish history class now costing £80 per term, double what it cost a few years ago, the result being fewer participants and classes not running due to low numbers.
Of course, if Scotland becomes independent no students in the rest of the UK will pay any fees and the chickens will then properly come home to roost in terms of finance required by the Scottish Government if it continues with its current no-fees policy.
I shudder to think what cuts will have to be made in other areas in order to fund free tuition for the vast majority of students attending Scottish universities.
The Scottish Government has very entrenched positions on tuition fees, GM, nuclear power and onshore wind, to name but a few. Good government means being prepared to change position when the facts change as they have for several of the above.
Clinging blindly to previously stated policies will not encourage Scots to vote for independence when the time comes.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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