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29 August 2011

University Education - What are the Scots up to?

I didn't go to University. When I was at school I never felt the need, nor did I perform well enough to make the grade anyway. I put things right after I'd left school and finished up with a professional qualification which, I was happy to hear, was described as a "Degree Equivalent".

Notwithstanding my teenage antipathy towards University Education I soon learned to appreciate that if our Country is to keep its head above water it needs well educated young people, especially in mathematics, engineering and science.

I am therefore greatly annoyed by the decision of both this government and its predecessors in deciding to make university students in England pay up to £9,000 per year for their university tuition. Education is so important that any half-civilized country should pay for it out of taxes. No-one should begrudge paying the tax because we all benefit from a well-educated society and a vibrant economy.

The fact that young people now have to start their lives with debts of up to £27,000 (or £36,000 in the case of four-year courses) round their necks is a disgrace. I have been, therefore, heartened by the fact that the devolved government of Scotland (currently led by the Scottish National Party) has maintained the principle of education free at the point of use.

But recently my admiration has turned to anger as they have now decided that English students attending Scottish Universities will have to pay for their tuition, whereas (in an act of breathtaking stupidity) they permit European students to attend free of charge. They mutter something about this being because they are members of the European Union.

Last time I looked, England (as part of the United Kingdom) was also a member of the European Union. I understand a group of students are going to Law to challenge the Scottish administration over this. I wish them all the luck in the world.

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