Since the Scottish National Party (SNP) Scottish Government scrapped the graduate endowment – a backdoor tuition fee introduced by the Labour-Liberal administration – for students graduating from April 2007, over a quarter of a million Scots have graduated from university, including record levels of people from some of the most deprived communities.
As the UK General Election gets underway, Boris Johnson is planning to ditch a promise made by his predecessor just a few short months ago to cut tuition fees for students studying south of the border. The issue was a hot topic in the last election, and Theresa May launched a review into student finance as a result. In one of her final acts as Tory leader, she recommended cutting fees to £7,500 a year
The move to continue to burden students with thousands of pounds of fees follows a previous sell-out of students during the Tory-Lib Dem coalition – which saw the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance and trebling of university tuition fees in England to a staggering £9,250 a year.
Keeping this pledge out of their manifesto may be about not wanting to highlight just how woeful the Tories have been on this issue since coming into Government in 2011.
Education must always be a right and not a privilege to those who can afford it. The SNP is the only party that has not just promised free higher education, but delivered it.
Rather than doing the right thing and scrapping these toxic tuition fees, the Tories are set to continue burdening students in England with average debt now over £50,000 and increasing inequality as those from poorer backgrounds are left behind.
A vote for the Tories is a vote to ensure the punishing austerity agenda continues and the young and the poor will be the worst hit. Scotland can, and must, do better.