Hundreds of students braved the cold yesterday in order to stage a march and protest outside the Scottish Parliament against the proposals by the UK government to charge up front tuition fees for university education.
The students marched down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile chanting slogans as they headed towards the Scottish Parliament building.
The Tory/Lib Dem coalition is proposing to introduce up-front fees as part of their English education budget, the plans have already led to major protests in England and Scotland.
Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie described the protest as a justified expression of anger at the UK government’s cut’s agenda.
Mr Harvie said the UK government’s plans were: “A cuts agenda which nobody voted for, it wasn’t in the Tory manifesto it wasn’t in the Liberal Democrat manifesto and it’s going to do untold damage not just to this generation but to generations to come.”
The Lib Dems have come under attack for what many describe as a ‘U’ turn on their manifesto pledge to resist up front fees. Vince Cable has been ridiculed after reports suggested that he may well not vote for the ConDem proposals that he himself helped draw up.
Recent calls from Sir Andrew Cubie urged MSPs at Holyrood to consider making Scottish students contribute to the cost of their degree with a graduate tax, payable as a proportion of their future earnings.
The calls were welcomed by Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Claire Baker who said: “I welcome Andrew Cubie’s comments and share his goal of improving student support in Scotland.
“We are supporting the calls for a comprehensive review of the student support system and university funding to ensure we have the best funding system for Scotland’s students.”
However the Scottish government rejected Sir Andrew’s comments and an SNP education spokesperson said: “We have made clear that access to university should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.”
We have no plans to re-introduce graduate contributions or tuition fees.”
The Scottish government is currently preparing a green paper on the future of higher education in Scotland. It is due to be published before the end of the year.