University places should not just be for the rich

Motherwell and Wishaw MP Marion Fellows
Motherwell and Wishaw MP Marion Fellows

Motherwell and Wishaw MP Marion Fellows hit out at the Conservatives over plans to reintroduce tuition fees in Scotland.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson stated last week she would bring in a fee of £6,000 should her party win the Scottish Parliament election on May 5.

It is still unclear how the fees would work in practice, but Mrs Fellows, a former teacher and lecturer, is concerned about the consequences of reintroducing them on ensuring further education is not just available to those who can afford it.

She said: “Under pressure from Nicola Sturgeon at a leaders’ debate last week, Ruth Davidson was forced to reveal her plans to charge our young people for university and college tuition via a stealth tax.

“The Tories said they would charge for education, but gave no indication as to how much it would cost, who would have to pay it, and if it would increase like it did in England when tuition started at £1,000 per year and now costs £9,000.

“As someone who worked as a college lecturer for years, I know the importance of a good education in forging a future for our young people. And this education must be free to all; not just those who can afford to pay.

“Since taking office, the SNP in Holyrood have increased the number of students from deprived backgrounds attending university by 35 per cent. The Tories would seek to reverse this and ensure further education for the wealthy and privileged.

“Education can create a number of opportunities for the young people of Motherwell and Wishaw and I would hate to think that these opportunities would be denied to those without the ability to pay.”

Ms Davidson also unveiled plans to bring back prescription charges of “up to about £8”, which were abolished in Scotland by the Scottish Government in 2011.

Like tuition fees it remains unclear when the Tories would reintroduce prescription charges and who would potentially be exempt from paying them.

However, in England, where prescription charges are due to increase to £8.40 this week, people with long term or chronic conditions like asthma, arthritis or motor neurone disease are not exempt from the levy.