Scots to step up fees row

June 11, 1999

Scottish opposition parties will next week continue their bid to have tuition fees scrapped north of the border, despite an imminent review of student support, writes Olga Wojtas.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Jim Wallace, deputy first minister in the coalition government, will next Thursday propose a motion to set up a committee of inquiry into tuition fees and student funding.

The motion, whose supporters include first minister Donald Dewar and Liberal Democrat Nicol Stephen, deputy minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, reads: "Parliament recognises the widespread opposition to tuition fees, the growing importance of lifelong learning to Scotland's society and economy, and the wide range of circumstances of those engaged in lifelong learning".

It calls on the Scottish executive to form an urgent inquiry on support for students in further and higher education.

But opposition MSPs have tabled three amendments seeking to axe fees. Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, is calling on the Scottish executive to bring forward "proposals for the abolition of tuition fees and the reintroduction of student maintenance grants".

Independent MSP Dennis Canavan, supported by Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan, also wants fees axed and grants restored. Brian Monteith of the Scottish Conservatives has tabled an amendment calling on the Scottish executive to implement the Tories' election proposal of a scholarship scheme to underwrite fees for Scottish students wherever they study in Britain.

The Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals, the Association of University Teachers Scotland and the National Union of Students Scotland want tuition fees addressed in a broader examination of student support.

4 newsThe Times HigherJjune 11J1999 St Andrews rector Donald Findlay is at the centre of a row over an honorary degree

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