The Scottish Tories are in chaos over their plans for tuition fees, the SNP has said, as a member of their frontbench contradicts their plans to impose back-door fees on Scottish students.
The follows last month where senior Tory MSP and Party Finance Spokesperson Liz Smith was reported saying that the existing policy of free tuition for Scottish domiciled students was “not sustainable” and supporting the reintroduction of the graduate endowment, a system of backdoor tuition fees which would see students forced to pay thousands in fees upon leaving university.
However, in response to a challenge from the SNP, Tory MSP and Deputy Education spokesperson Roz McCall has distanced herself from Ms Smith’s position, saying “to be clear, I and my party continue to support free university tuition.”
Since the SNP abolished tuition fees, the number of Scottish first time full-time degree entrants has grown by 31% and we have a record number of students from our poorest communities going to university.
The recent report by the Commissioner on Fair Access also made clear that the huge increase in people from our poorest communities going to university was not at the expense of other cohorts of Scottish students.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bill Kidd, who sits on the Education committee, said:
“The Tory plans to impose tuition fees on Scottish students were always going to be deeply unpopular with people in Scotland – but now it’s clear that they aren’t even supported by their own deputy education spokesperson.
“This is now a question of Douglas Ross’ failing leadership, with members of his own frontbench completely contradicting his policies.
“Coming days after another frontbencher abandoned Holyrood for a seat in the unelected House of Lords, it’s clear that the Tories are in complete chaos in Scotland.
“Since the SNP scrapped tuition fees, we have seen the numbers of Scottish students going to university growing – with a huge rise in students from our poorest areas.
“Free tuition is one of the best examples of why making decisions in Scotland, for Scotland, can improve people’s lives.
“With the Tories planning to impose backdoor tuition fees, and Keir Starmer’s breaking his pledge on free tuition, it’s clear that only the SNP will stand up for Scotland’s students, and make sure a university education is based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay.”