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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 June 2007

Have Scottish students got free education?

THE SCOTTISH National Party (SNP) has made its bid for popularity amongst students by announcing plans to scrap graduate endowments for Scottish students.

Matt Dobson Socialist Students national organiser

There is no doubt that these announcements will be viewed positively by Scottish students both applying to university and graduating this year. But does this measure equate to free education?

The SNP is feeling the pressure from the unpopularity of New Labour's higher education policy which has left many thousands of graduates with vast debts. Applications to Scottish universities have fallen by 1% over each of the last two years.

The SNP claim to be "delivering a return to free education" but have yet to fulfil their election pledges to replace the system of student loans with means tested grants and cancel debt repayments.

Even so, students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be asking why the New Labour government can't also scrap fees.

Graduate endowments were introduced in 2001 when the Scottish executive scrapped tuition fees.

Students entering higher education paid just under 2,300 when they graduated. The endowment was used to pay for bursaries for poorer students.

Students from outside Scotland studying in Scottish universities have to pay top-up fees.

The majority of students graduating in Scotland have not been able to pay off their endowment and have been piling it on to debts they have from the student loan company.

The SNP's policies alone cannot alleviate student poverty or guarantee free good quality education.

Scottish students will still have to meet the rising costs of accommodation and other services on campus as they are opened up to the private sector.

The SNP will not be able to protect Scottish students from New Labour's drive towards marketisation and a two-tier higher education system.

How will the SNP fund higher education? And how much control will they have over what is spent?

The SNP will not be immune to Brown's spending squeeze on public services and will come under pressure to implement cuts.

The SNP want to make Scotland the "best place in Europe to do business" promising to cut corporation tax to 20%! This will mean less money in the public purse.

While the SNP's pledge shows that the money is available to fund education without charging endowments or fees, the SNP like all the main parties is fundamentally tied to the interests of big business and therefore cannot guarantee free education.

That is why students in Scotland and throughout the UK must link up with workers to build a mass movement to fight for free education and against privatisation and cuts.

Socialists campaign for a living grant for all students so they can afford to study and meet all the costs of university.

We demand the scrapping of all fees and student debt and fight for free publicly funded quality education at all levels.

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In The Socialist 21 June 2007:

New PM... same old Bosses' agenda

Brown stresses 'continuity' with Blair

Manchester council swings the axe


Workplace news

Postal and post office workers demand action

National shop stewards' network

Workers must fight Ford sell-off plans

UNISON Leadership get a roasting from angry delegates

No UNISON witch-hunt!

Greenwich UNISON wins concessions

NUT miss opportunity on pay


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Stop Hatchet Hewitt's NHS plans now

Blood centre workers fight job cuts plan


Socialist Party news and analysis

Something for everyone at the summer camp

How Cadbury's keeps shareholders sweet...

Arise... Sir Stephen who?


War and terrorism

Withdraw occupation troops!

Palestinian infighting blows apart 'national unity' government


Socialist students and ISR

Have Scottish students got free education?

Eye-witness from the G8

Why you should join ISR


Workplace news and analysis

Deskilling and destaffing - Tube bosses' dream

PCS leadership recommends new deal to members


Global Warming

Turning the tide for alternative energy


International socialist news

South Africa - third week for public-sector strike


 

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