I just want to make a brief post in which I gush at how grateful I am towards the policies of the current Scottish National Party administration within the Scottish government which allow students studying for their first degree to be excempt from paying tuition fees. Yesterday I received a letter from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland in which they promised to pay the roughly £1,800 yearly fee to study at Edinburgh University. I have to apply again each year, but over the course of four years this will have saved me £7,200. And the fee of £1,800 is incredibly modest! (I can’t help wondering how much a student from south would have to pay).
Compare this to the system in England and Wales: yearly tuition fees which can be up to £9,000 a year, after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition as Westminster introduced them a couple of years ago. Over a standard three-year course (it’s generally four years in Scotland) this would leave many students up to £27,000 in debt. It’s abhorrent, and I deeply pity everyone subject to this hopefully temporary measure. I can understand why the Scottish government has decided to make tuition fees apply to students from England and Wales – otherwise Scottish students would likely lose out as our universities would become understandably swamped – but I certainly wish there were another way. It’s as if the young people of England and Wales are being punished for having the misfortune to have simply been born where they were.
University is expensive. As I’ll be moving to Edinburgh I will also have to worry about the costs of accommodation and also just the costs of living independently without a stable income. I’m in the fortunate position of having some money available to me for university and I will never take this for granted, but I know so many other students will find it a financial struggle. Abolishing tuition fees for a first degree massively reduces this struggle, therefore working to break down the class barrier and, within a generation, improving the skills of the population as a whole.