Scots student reps oppose fees

May 21, 1999

Tuition fees are a disgraceful attack on the principles of free state education and blathering on about how hard up our universities are misses the point ("Abolishing fees in Scotland will add to inequality", Leader, THES, May 14).

Most universities are impoverished because that is how weak and introspective governments prefer them to be. Any income from tuition fees would hardly set the bells ringing in the v-c's office were things not so bad already. Moreover, your description of free university education as some sort of "perk" for the middle classes is absurd. University education was free only because the public collectively decided it. The subsequent monopoly of it by the middle class is another issue. Tuition fees have hardly reduced that trend, unless one considers a reduction in mature entrants as progress.

There is a debate to be had concerning the exclusion of the poorer members of our society from universities. There is a debate to be had concerning the level of financial assistance available to all those offered a place, but you chose not to bother. Maybe new Labour's educational policies should be taken outside more often. The chattering classes are having their teeth rattled in Scotland. A little more critical scrutiny during the rest of their term might not go amiss. At present you offer neither sense nor solution, preferring a slavish adherence to a failed initiative.

Paul Doherty

Norwich

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