University's £500k Holyrood trade

EDINBURGH University has earned an estimated half a million pounds selling internships at the Scottish Parliament at £5,560 a head, it was confirmed last night.

The prized places have been snapped up by students from a number of exclusive American universities, going back to the start of devolution.

It has been confirmed that the students receive no pay for their time working in the Parliament, where they are allocated to MSPs from a range of parties.

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A university spokesperson said last night: "The period which students spend in Parliament is an integrated, supported and assessed part of the wider internship programme. Our students are properly trained and informed to work with MSPs."

Asked if the price of the placements made them only accessible to rich students, the spokesperson said: "Our programme delivers a quality educational experience. We believe that students on this programme are getting value for money and this is backed up by the excellent feedback we get from students and MSPs."

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: "Individual members and parties take responsibility for intern arrangements."