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26 March 2008

STEVENSON SLAMS LABOUR LEGACY OF INCREASED STUDENT DEBT

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed the legacy of the Labour and Liberal Democrats as new figures from a Parliamentary Answer revealed that student debt more than doubled between 1999 and 2007. The figures show that the average student debt upon entering repayment in 1999 was £2863. Yet by 2007, this figure had swelled to £5808. This also includes loans taken out to pay the Graduate Endowment, a Labour policy recently abolished by the SNP Government.

Commenting on the figures Mr. Stevenson said:

"The disgraceful legacy of debt that the Labour led Executive has had on Scotland is one that has not been lost on the student population. When Labour first came to power in 1997 the mantra was 'education, education, education' however through their introduction of The Graduation Endowment they created a back-door tuition fee that made Further Education even less accessible to vast swathes of the population.

"The SNP Governments key priority is to make education accessible to all and our scrapping of The Graduation Endowment will make strides towards reversing the Labour legacy of mounting student debt therefore making further education more attractive to our constituents.

"It is of fundamental importance that we address the skills gap in many industries by making Further Education more attractive. I was recently pleased to launch the 'Nautical - the Next Step,' a course being offered by Banff and Buchan College that is looking to bridge this skills gap in the maritime industry and harness a strong tradition of seafaring.

"By reducing the financial burden on students we can ensure our local colleges are able to increase their up take of students to courses such as those mentioned so that Banff and Buchan’s up and coming generation are given every opportunity to attain the skills and qualifications needed to develop successful careers."

Stewart Stevenson
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