Leader: Students, get fired up about the less well-off

June 29, 2001

The Scottish Parliament has decided that upfront tuition fees are a bad idea and has abandoned them for its own students and for European Union students from outside the United Kingdom. But while higher education is within the powers of the Scottish Parliament, the finances of English, Welsh and Northern Irish students are not. Hence the student complaint to the European Parliament that London, not Edinburgh, is discriminating against them by making English students pay fees if they go to college in Scotland.

Their case may prosper, but it risks missing the point. Only better-off students pay fees. More importantly, they are a minor part of student finance worries compared with the lack of grants for poor applicants. If students have spare energy for European politicking, it would be better put into a petition on the way in which the less well-off are discouraged from higher education for lack of help with living costs.

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