Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on Tuesday SNP MSP Joan McAlpine challenged the Labour party to come clean on their proposals for tuition fees.
The Scottish government firmly believe that access to higher education should be based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay. It is this commitment to free education that is encouraging a rise in applicants and helping to keep Scottish student debt levels the lowest in the UK.
Last year, Scottish Labour’s manifesto also promised that they would rule out tuition fees of any kind; Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray signed up to the NUS Reclaim Your Voice campaign pledging to keep tuition free.
It is clear that this is a promise she and the rest of the Labour party never intended to keep; Labour nailed their colours to the mast when they failed to back the motion yesterday, which called for the education to remain free, with no upfront or backdoor tuition fees.
Commenting after the debate, Ms McAlpine said:
“It was a real Nick Clegg moment for Labour.
“The SNP are the only major political party in Scotland never to have voted for tuition fees, and they kept their promise, unlike the Labour party.
“It must be particularly sickening for those who voted for Labour based on their pre-election commitment to keep education free. It is clear from their lack of support for the motion that they are back-tracking on this promise."
“As well as keeping education free, the Scottish Government is writing into law Widening Access Agreements with universities to help students from poorer backgrounds to get to university. There is more to be done, but the SNP are working hard for students in Scotland.
“It’s not cheap; the SNP have invested more than £1 billion this year to protect places for Scottish students. But it is definitely a price worth paying.”