In an address at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said that state-funded university education was “not viable” without a “serious” reduction in standards. In a wide ranging speech on education to mark her first anniversary as Scottish Labour leader, Lamont said:
“University education is costly, and faces competing claims on limited public resources.”
“Whilst it was possible to sustain a system of publicly-funded higher education in an environment of relatively low participation, this is not viable in an era of mass participation without a very serious diminution in standards and quality.”
“There is no such thing as free higher education – under a completely tax funded tuition system, everybody is forced to pay for it, including those on low incomes.”
That’ final line is not a new argument (it has been used by advocates of tuition fees in England for over a decade), but alongside Lamont’s earlier speech questioning universal benefits, it seems that the Scottish Labour leader is trying to set herself apart from the traditional position of the party in Scotland on universal, free provision.