30 October 2007

Stevenson Welcomes Graduate Endowment Bill

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government's Graduate Endowment Bill, which outlines their proposals to scrap the unpopular fee for students.

The Bill, published last week, highlights the Scottish Government's plans to scrap the fee for around 50,000 students including those who have just graduated and those who have just started new courses.

Graduate Endowment Fee was introduced for Scottish domiciled students and EU students entering a Scottish university from 2001-02 and is a one off payment on successful completion of a higher education course of three years or more.

Commenting Mr. Stevenson said;

"I wholly welcome the Education Secretary's proposals to scrap the Graduate Endowment Fee. Our education system is key to growing Scotland's economy and its reputation as a country of learning and ambition, and by easing the burden placed on students we are encouraging people to become part of a flourishing society.

"Many of my constituents in Banff & Buchan, from all ages and backgrounds, are keen to enter into further education and we must ensure that no limitations are placed on people's potential.

"Abolishing the fee is not just good news for current students but is also in the best interest of the public purse. The fee is an inefficient way of raising income with taxpayers losing around a third of all fee income collected.

"The publication of this Bill means that the SNP Government has once again delivered on their manifesto pledges. The opportunities created by scrapping the fee will mean students in Banff & Buchan can achieve their maximum potential in a flourishing Scottish education system which is fit for the twenty-first century."



The first students became liable to pay the Graduate Endowment Fee - currently £2,289 - on April 1, 2005.

Students with a disability and lone parents are among those who are exempt from the graduate endowment fee. Around half of graduates are currently liable to pay the fee.

Students can pay the fee in cash, by adding it to their student loan, or a mixture of both. Around 70 per cent of graduates have been adding fees to loans each year.

Approximately £17m is generated in income from the Graduate Endowment Fee annually and reinvested into the student support system. The abolition of the GE fee will not affect the fees, grants and bursaries currently payable by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. That support system will remain.

There will be no implications for university funding, which will continue to be funded from existing budgets.

It is estimated that around £12.7m has been paid back in cash from the three cohorts of graduates liable to pay the fee with £26.3 million being added to loans. Of this £26.3m only £57,000 has been returned to the taxpayer.

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