Fight over Scottish endowment goes on

April 6, 2001

Scotland's opposition parties have failed in their attempt to increase the £10,000 earnings threshold for graduate endowment contributions. But Labour's partners in the coalition government, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, passed a motion at their spring conference last weekend calling for the threshold to rise to three-quarters of average earnings.

The graduate endowment and student support bill has cleared its final parliamentary hurdle. Scottish students coming into higher education from this autumn will be liable to pay £2,000 once their income tops £10,000. The bill does not specify a sum, but the threshold is tied to that for student loan repayments.

Scotland's minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, Wendy Alexander, said the independent Cubie committee had established the principle of an endowment, because students reaped the rewards of investment in their education.

"On average, women in Scotland who have gone to university earn £1 million more in discounted lifetime earnings than those who have not. We are asking for £2,000 in later life to pay for a four-year course in which the Scottish Executive will have invested in excess of £20,000."

Tory MSP Brian Monteith condemned the scheme as an "iniquitous tax" and said the threshold should be set at a level that showed graduates had benefited from their degree.

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