By Bob Duncan
New analysis in a report published by the Alliance Trust shows that under-30s in the UK faced the highest rate of inflation at 3.4 per cent, largely due to the recent spike in university fees.
With the headline rate of UK inflation running at 2.7%, SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie says this inflation “sting” for under-30s shows the damaging consequences of Westminster’s tuition policy.
The rocketing cost of tuition fees south of the border stands in sharp contrast to the situation in Scotland where the SNP restored the principle of free education soon after gaining power in the 2007 election.
This analysis follows figures that laid bare Labour’s legacy on student fees by showing that almost seven in ten Scottish students are still paying back their Graduate Endowment debt – something which the party in Scotland now wants to reintroduce.
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont had previously signed up to a commitment of “no tuition fees” in NUS Scotland’s ‘Reclaim your voice’ campaign during the 2011 Scottish parliamentary elections. In addition, Page 25 of Scottish Labour’s 2011 manifesto promised “No upfront of backend tuition fees”.
However, since losijg the 2011 Scottish election, Scottish Labour have frequently attacked the Scottish government’s policy of free education and are now examining options for the reintroduction of fees in a ‘Cuts Commission’ which Ms Lamont announced last year.
Meanwhile, Scottish Universities, along with those from other small European countries, are punching well above their weight internationally. The universities in the QS World Rankings 2012 Top 100 show; 2 in Sweden, 2 in Denmark 1 in Finland and 3 in Scotland.
As well as excellent teaching, the International comparative performance of the research base of Scotland’s universities shows that for share of papers in the Top 1% of research:
- Finland: Ranked 1st by impact;
- Sweden: Ranked 2nd for impact;
- Denmark: Ranked 10th for impact;
- Scotland: Ranked 4th by impact.
Mr Hosie said: “This is a real sting for under-30s whose purse strings are already being squeezed to the limit.
“Alliance Trust must be thanked for its work in bringing this information into the public domain.
“What these figures make clear is just how vital the SNP’s policy of free education is to keeping costs down for all of our students.
“South of the border, people’s paycheques are being stretched more and more as the rising cost of education in England makes it harder for households to cope.
“And with Johann Lamont’s wish to betray Scotland’s students by reintroducing back-door fees, it is clearer than ever only a Yes vote will protect the progress made by the Scottish Parliament.
“We will fight to stop this progress being rolled back by parties pursuing a Westminster agenda.
“Thanks to free access to education, Scotland’s universities have record numbers of students enrolling – while in England sky high fees have caused student numbers to plummet.
“Denmark, Sweden and Finland collectively have five universities in the world top 100, and – like Scotland where access to higher education is based on the ability to learn not the ability to pay – are punching above their weight in terms of research and development.”