Scots go their own way

February 13, 2014

Your article about tuition fees in Scotland (“Clock is ticking: Teenagers question sustainability of free tuition”, 6 February) states: “There have been signs that a near-political consensus for free higher education is cracking.”

The truth – and I speak as an English-born academic teaching full-time within a modern Scottish university – is that there is still massive support for the progressive Scottish National Party policy of higher education free at point of use.

We have only to look south at the catastrophic fee situation in England to be reminded of the importance of holding on to our own approach.

It is true that the Scottish Labour Party is trying to undermine the consensus; that is no surprise, as it was the Labour Party that introduced fees in the rest of the UK. But I do not think that Scottish Labour’s Johann Lamont represents a groundswell of opinion either within universities or without.

Like health, education is far too precious to be abandoned by the state. Democratic education is the Scottish way, and long may it remain.

Alistair Duff
Cumbernauld

 

Here at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s office, we read with interest of the frustration Ray Stoneham felt (“Too much freedom”, Letters, 6 February) about not being able to find out how many information requests universities had received.

In Scotland, since April 2013, Scottish public authorities, including universities, upload to our website statistics about requests they have dealt with under Scottish Freedom of Information laws. We collate and publish them quarterly.

It is a credit to the Freedom of Information regime in Scotland that this happens. It is the product of a collaborative approach between the Scottish Information Commissioner, Scottish public authorities and Scottish ministers. The Scottish Information Commissioner set up the system for collating and publishing the statistics; public authorities keep and upload them; and ministers include the need for keeping statistics in the statutory guidance they are required to publish under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. If you want to view the statistics, visit https://stats.itspublicknowledge.info, or find out more about Freedom of Information in Scotland on our website at www.itspublicknowledge.info.

Rosemary Agnew
Scottish Information Commissioner

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