Tory tuition fees policy to cost Scotland £300m

Linda in chamber - Hairmyres PQWestminster’s decision to impose tuition fees on students south of the border is having a serious impact on Scotland’s budget, the SNP has highlighted today – and shows why full financial powers should be in Scotland’s hands.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question from SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, Deputy First Minister John Swinney pointed out that as a result of UK Government cuts of £3bn to teaching grant spend in England, Scotland’s budget could be hit by a cut of around £298m.

In government, the SNP has protected the right to free university education based on the ability to learn rather than the ability to pay – in stark contrast to the situation south of the border.

Commenting, Ms Fabiani said:

“Westminster’s £9000 tuition fees south of the border have been an unmitigated disaster in every respect – increasing student debt and costing the taxpayer more in the long run – and now we know that it could cost Scotland as much as £300million despite the policy being rejected time and time again by the Scottish people.

“£300million is a serious cut at a time when public services are already suffering as a result of Tory austerity policies – and the fact that this cut is a result of the shameful imposition of tuition fees by the UK Government simply makes matters worse.

“The idea that Scotland’s budget could face consequential cuts because of the regressive education policies pursued by an out-of-touch Tory government we didn’t vote for is absolutely ridiculous – and shows exactly why full powers over the economy should be in Scotland’s hands, so our budgets are no longer subject to the whims of David Cameron and George Osborne.

“I am proud that we have defended free access to higher education throughout our time in government despite opposition from the other parties – and we will continue to defend their right to free learning and ensure Scotland’s Higher Education sector continues to go from strength to strength.”

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