26 February 2013

Labour's Plan to Charge College Students Thousands of Pounds Condemned


Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has highlighted statistics demonstrating the damaging impact that tuition fees have on college students south of the border.

Labours’ failure to back a motion supporting free tuition last week at Holyrood has cemented its position on their determination to re-introduce fees in Scotland. The huge charges faced by further education college students south of the border have been described as one of the most damaging measures imaginable.

According to figures from the Office for Fair Access, the average student fee at Further Education Colleges south of the border in 2013/14 will be an estimated £6,211.

Colleges wishing to charge more than basic level tuition fees must have an Access Agreement approved by the Office for Fair Access. For Further Education Colleges with Access Agreements, the average student fee for a full-time student in 2013/14 is estimated to be £6,489 – up from £6,352 in the current year.

The figures make a mockery of Labour attacking the SNP Government’s commitment to free education, with hundreds of thousands of college students in Scotland currently being supported in their studies by the absence of tuition fees.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, said:

“Imposing thousands of pounds of debt on college students is one of the most damaging measures imaginable, and can only have the effect of removing opportunity from thousands of young people in Scotland.

“Labour politicians have been very keen to parade themselves as champions of colleges, but if that’s the case why do they want to hit college students with a bill for thousands of pounds in tuition fees?

“Students in Scotland are appalled at Labour’s betrayal of them and no wonder – but although they no longer back free tuition they have not told us what they would introduce.

“It is hard to think of any measure that could do more to undermine the college sector at a single stroke, and a look south of the border makes all too clear what the scale of the damage would be.

“As has been made all too clear again this week, it is only the SNP that is truly committed to the principle of education based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.

“Unlike Labour we recognise the enormous damage that tuition fees do to the prospects of college and university students - and clearly unlike Labour when we promise people not to introduce tuition fees in Scotland we deliver on it.”

Stewart Stevenson
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