Survey underlines need to keep university education free

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by a Newsnet reporter 

Scottish students should continue to receive university education free of charge an SNP MSP has said after a study suggested that students south of the border faced bills of over £50,000.

MSP for Edinburgh Central, Marco Biagi, claimed the study demonstrated that education needed to be free for all in order to ensure all students received the best start in life.

The survey from ‘PUSH’, the university guide, says that students starting English universities next year could leave their studies with an accumulated debt of more than double that of students starting this year.
 
Currently the average predicted debt for a student starting in 2011 is £26,000.  However, students starting next year are predicted to be faced with debts of over £53,000 once graduating. 
 
Mr Biagi, the member of the Scottish Parliament’s Education committee and MSP for Edinburgh said:
 
“This survey today is a testament as to why it is of the upmost importance to keep Scottish universities tuition free and student debt down.
 
“Bills of £26,000 and £50,000 will prove very worrying for students in their last year of school or those planning to embark on their studies at English institutions next year.
 
“The introduction of tuition fees – first by the Labour government and then their increase by the Tory/LibDem coalition – is rightly seen as a betrayal by students who have been penalised for going to university by successive governments. “

Mr Biagi claimed that incurring such a debt would have a negative impact on business startups, buying a home and investing in pensions and added:
 
“The UK Government is creating a generation set to be burdened by debt.  The SNP in government has delivered on our promises to rid Scotland’s students of the graduate endowment and we are committed to keeping higher education for free at the point of access.
 
“We know for many students meeting the cost of living is a priority and we will continue with to work with NUS Scotland towards a minimum income guarantee for students, keeping debts down and giving our graduates the best start to their lives outside of education.”