Tories launch assault on fees 'fudge'

January 7, 2000

Olga Wojtas on the latest reactions to the Cubie report into student finance.

The Cubie inquiry was launched to take the heat out of political battles over tuition fees in the new Scottish Parliament. But there is no sign of the wrangling abating.

The Scottish Tories have condemned Cubie as "politically motivated" and are tabling a proposal for a bill to axe tuition fee contributions for Scottish students.

Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie said the committee had been working to an imposed political agenda to "fudge and confuse" the issue of tuition fees. It did not abolish them, but merely converted them into a tuition tax. "[Cubie] proposes yet another stealth tax to be added to Labour's lengthening list. It's a tax on learning, a tax on incentive and a tax on achievement.

"All students would be sucked into a government-engineered debt trap. Some would finish up significantly worse off, entitled to zero support over and above what their parents manage to provide. Some middle-income families would find themselves Pounds 1,700 worse off in cash-flow terms. While not having to find Pounds 1,025 in fees ... their student offspring would lose their Pounds 2,725 loan entitlement," Mr McLetchie said.

The Tories propose a scholarship scheme, equivalent to tuition fee contributions, payable to any Scottish higher education student.

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