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27.1.2000

Edward Davey calls for the abolition of tuition fees for students in Kingston

Local MP Edward Davey, has called on the Government to scrap tuition fees for British students studying in Kingston, in response to the recent news that Scottish Lib Dems have been successful in removing up front charges for a university education in Scotland.

The package approved by the Scottish Cabinet created a new anomaly within UK higher education - with students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland paying fees for courses at Scottish universities, while Scots and students from the rest of the EU pay none.

Speaking at the Commons in response to the news, Edward Davey said,
"My Liberal Democrat colleagues north of the border have delivered one of the best student support packages in Europe. Apart from the abolition of tuition fees for those in higher education, they have also delivered the re-introduction of Bursaries of up to 8000 for the poorest to cover student living costs."

"This level of support is in stark contrast to the current situation in Kingston." "Many of the local students I have spoken to admit it is a real financial struggle to survive. An ever growing number have to take on part-time and sometimes full time jobs just to pay the bills."

"There is no doubt that this is having an adverse effect on their studies and more and more students are dropping out citing financial hardship as the cause."

"The Government must begin to recognise that a growing number of talented students in Kingston and throughout the country will be forced to pack in their courses. They are a very important part of our country's future wealth generators and to ignore this fact is the worst form of short sightedness imaginable."

"I hope the Government will now follow the Liberal Democrats lead and scraps tuition fees for students in Kingston and the rest of the UK."

Facts and Figures

The National Union of Students said English students in Scottish universities would now be "second class citizens" and predicted that the fees paid throughout the rest of the UK would rebound on the Government at the next General Election: "Voters in the rest of the UK have not yet had a chance to vote in a General Election called since fees were imposed. But they shortly will."

Facts on the Scottish proposals:

  • Tuition Fees for Scottish Students at Scottish Universities are abolished from Sept 2000.
  • A new bursary (grants) scheme will be introduced in Sept 2001, paid for by Graduate Contributions.
  • Grants of up to 2000 per annum will be available for around 30% of students depending on parental income. Bursaries will taper but will be paid to student up to 23,000 of parental income. 30% of students will get bursaries.
  • The Graduate Contribution will be 2000 payable after Graduation. It will be introduced in 2001.
  • Mature students will not pay the Graduate Contribution. Nor will HND/HNC students, lone parents or disabled students.
  • 50% of HE students will be exempt from the Graduate Contribution
  • The Contribution is added to the Student Loan, but no student will have higher debt.
  • The Scottish Executive will continue to try to bypass EU law to pay fees in England.
  • Fees will be abolished for Further Education

At Westminster, senior Government sources strove to play down the scale of the anomaly. Education Secretary David Blunkett made no comment on the deal struck by political colleagues north of the border.

A spokesman for the Tory Party said its policy on student support remained under review.

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