Scots pick team to probe fees and grants

July 2, 1999

The people who will help decide the fate of tuition fees in Scotland are to be approved today by the Scottish Parliament.

Henry McLeish, Scottish Parliament minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, has nominated 14 members of the independent committee of inquiry on student finance.

He is expected to ask the Scottish Parliament's approval of the nominees and outline terms of reference today. Mr McLeish will seek approval of Andrew Cubie, a senior partner in Fyfe Ireland solicitors, to chair the committee.

Mr McLeish consulted all parties in the Scottish Parliament. The outline terms of reference are that the committee should conduct a comprehensive review of tuition fees and financial support for students normally resident in Scotland, participating part-time or full-time, on further and higher education courses anywhere in the United Kingdom.

The committee should bear in mind the need to improve access to further and higher education, particularly for underrepresented groups, while maintaining quality and standards.

In what could be a veiled reference to the financial impact on Scottish universities of abolishing tuition fees, the committee should take account of "the position of Scottish further and higher education in the wider UK system".

The committee, offered by the Scottish Labour Party as part of the deal struck with Scottish Liberal Democrats following the June election, has to report to the Scottish government by the end of this year.

It could recommend that tuition fees be abolished in Scotland. This would increase the likelihood that members of the Scottish Parliament would call for their abolition.

The proposed full membership is: Andrew Cubie, chairman; members: Morag Alexander, director of the Equal Opportunities Commission Scotland; Rowena Arshad, director of the Centre for Education and Racial Equality in Scotland; George Bennett, general manager for Motorola; David Bleiman, assistant general secretary (Scotland and Northumbria) Association of University Teachers; Eleanor Currie, director of education and deputy chief executive, East Renfrewshire; David Dimmock, education liaison manager for Standard Life Assurance; Marian Healy, national officer, Educational Institute of Scotland; Archie Hunter, senior partner (Scotland) KPMG; Dugald Mackie, secretary, Glasgow University; Ian Ovens, principal, Dundee College; Heather Sheerin, chair, Highland Primary Care NHS Trust; Maria Slowey, professor and director, department of adult and continuing education, Glasgow University; David Welsh, president, student representative council, Aberdeen University.

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