It is great to know the First Minister reads the material we send him, at least according to today’s FMQs. Following a question from Annabel Goldie MSP on the Scottish Government’s plans to charge English, Welsh and Northern Irish Students up to £36,000, Alex Salmond MSP cited the SYP along with a number of university principals in his response.
The source for this is the Scottish Government consultation, ‘Building a Smarter Future’. The SYP was part of the consultation, and one of the statements we put to our membership was whether students from the rest of the UK should be charged ‘English’ levels of fees at Scottish Universities. Nearly 60% of those who responded to this survey indicated they agreed with this statement. Only 30% disagreed. As a result the SYP recommended to the consultation:
“Students from the rest of the UK attending Scottish universities should have to pay tuition fees at the same level as they would pay in England to avoid Scottish universities being seen as a ‘cheap option’ and places for Scottish-domiciled students being reduced as a result.”
Of course, the situation has changed since February. In England and Wales it has become clear most Universities, rather than a small number, will now be charging fees of £9,000. This means the funding shortfall facing Scottish Universities compared to their competitors from south of the border has increased markedly. This changes the whole framework of the tuition fees discussion.
As a Youth Parliament, we face a new situation. I am delighted the First Minister pays attention to what we have to say about higher education funding. I hope he was listening when 85% of young people agreed with our Manifesto statement that access to University should be kept free. It will be up to our new membership to decide if we agree with the conditions of the Higher Education settlement when the bill is finally published in full. Until then, feel free to post comments below on what you think the SYP’s position should be on this.
Document: Building a Smarter Future – SYP Response