Lib Dems look to Scots system for student funding inspiration

五月 3, 2002

The Liberal Democrats may base part of their revised national higher education policy on the Scottish student funding solution.

Baroness Sharp, the party's education spokeswoman in the House of Lords who is leading the review, is looking closely at Scotland, which has abolished upfront tuition fees, reintroduced grants and imposed a graduate endowment contribution. The review is due to be completed next year.

The party's higher education spokesman David Rendel said that the Scottish system, introduced by the Lib-Lab controlled Scottish Executive following the Cubie report into student finances, had proved more appealing to students than the English system of upfront fees and loans.

Mr Rendel said: "We are looking more and more closely at a sort of Scottish solution. Quite simply, no one seems to have worked out anything better than they have."

The latest applications figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show that applications by Scots to Scottish institutions rose by 5.6 per cent (from 26,771 last year, to 28,3 this), compared with a 0.2 per cent per cent increase in applications from English people to English institutions (9,293 to 9,725). Applications by Scots to English institutions fell by 7.1 per cent.

Liberal Democrat policy opposes undergraduate tuition fees and supports the reintroduction of grants for poorer students. A decision to adapt national policy to the Scottish model could require the party's acceptance of Scottish-style graduate contributions, which are in effect a tuition charge, albeit not one levied upfront.

Mr Rendel said that Baroness Sharp's review would also examine the links between further and higher education with a view to further integration between the two sectors.

The party is also looking at 14-to-19 education amid concerns that changes to the examinations system, including the introduction of AS-level qualifications, has led to over-examination. Mr Rendel said that consideration was being given to devising a policy advocating less testing and more teaching.



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