Johann Lamont suggests free university education in Scotland could end

December 18, 2012 10:09 am

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.

  • Chilbaldi

    Cybernat countdown! 5…4…3…2…1…

  • AlanGiles

    Time for Lamont to join the Coaltion, perhaps?.

  • robertcp

    Depressing. I would vote SNP if I lived in Scotland.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Well, there’s a tried and tested, vote winning idea for you! Worked out really well for the Tories and the Liberal Democrats didn’t it? Eeek.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001116515833 Michael Carey

    Is this now policy? Where was it debated and decided?

    • John Ruddy

      Can you point to the policy which she said? I cant read anywhere where she said “Students must pay fees”.

      • rekrab

        She would probably favour a return too “plural voting” but on this form she couldn’t be sure of picking up any of the two votes? Jeez!!!!

  • Amber_Star

    There’s loads of alternatives to fees, if Lamont actually wants to get Labour in a good position on this issue. I think she needs to go & meet people in the CLPs; she should make her case to them & then listen to their responses.

  • JoeDM

    Facing up to reality can sometimes be very difficult.

    • Dave Postles

      US and European universities are attracting the highest-grade performers, as repeated again in a large piece in the education section of today’s [18 October] The Guardian, the former (US Ivy League) because they have full-cost bursaries compared with the pitiable amount in the UK (which is often derogated anyway) and the latter because of the low fees (e.g. Maastricht). Even that supine class of managers, the VCs, are beginning to realise this problem of losing the highest-grade performers. The difficulty again is that young people from low-income social groups are the least likely to avail themselves of these opportunities abroad because it is not within their information field. The intimation seems to be that it is young people from public schools (in the UK sense, not the US) who are dominating these US scholarships, whilst the young people from poorer backgrounds suffer the demise of the UK HE system. No doubt many of them will avoid university altogether in the future and rely on MOOCs, another lesser experience compared with their peers from privileged backgrounds.

  • franwhi

    Why university education ?? Have tuition fees worked to widen access in England ? No !
    I don’t understand the range of this argument. Why is it so limited to certain kinds of Govt spending i.e. social spending and not aspects of defence spending and weapons procurement like Trident for example. Lets put everything on the table and decide then what our spending priorities are otherwise the attack on universal benefits seems more ideological than about savings to the public purse.

  • Redshift1

    Not impressed. The whole point is mass participation means those from low income families actually have a decent chance of going through higher education. Mass participation means that finally university funding out of general taxation is justified. Bizarre that this is the point where we decided that we should start paying fees and disappointing that Labour backed this south of the border. To now see us follow suit north of the border is even more disappointing.

    The Scandinavian countries manage free tuition. Why not us?

    Coming to a general point I’ve heard that I’ll repeat. Most scots are left of centre and pro-union. How hard can it be? Stop trying to use dividing lines with the SNP that lose us votes. They’ve cocked up over independence – why are we now trying to create our own cock up? There is no political gain in this.

    • http://twitter.com/eddyman00 Edward Anderson

      Mass participation has actually led to an increase in the gap between working class people like me (hello… waves) going to uni and middle class people going. The university expansion has expanded the gap between social classes as many jobs which a bright poor person could go into now need a degree which they don’t get due to a) yes, a fear of debt but mainly b) the horrific G.C.S.E results for poor students and the bad subject choices made in later education.

  • Amber_Star

    Students from low income families can’t afford the cost of the trips to the US for tests, interviews etc. And even if they scrape together the money & they succeed in those, the living costs are impossible. A full bursary is only for the fees. You have to provide a bank statement showing that you have $20k (£15k) to pay for travel, visa applications & living costs for the first year; in addition you sign a statement saying that you will provide a $20k statement each year that the bursary continues.

  • uglyfatbloke

    Oh good…another gift to the gnats. How clever is this?

Latest

  • Comment PMQs review: Miliband lands punch on NHS as leaders go through the motions

    PMQs review: Miliband lands punch on NHS as leaders go through the motions

    Here we are again. Another week, another Wednesday, and another wrangle between Cameron and Miliband about the NHS. This is getting a bit old. Cameron attempted to get Miliband on the back foot – he kicked off PMQs by posing questions to the Labour leader about the Welsh NHS. Rather predictably, the rest of PMQs descended into the two party leaders arguing about who can be more trusted with the NHS. But, there was something a little more sinister about […]

    Read more →
  • Comment There is no such thing as a safe seat any more

    There is no such thing as a safe seat any more

    A couple of weeks ago saw the UK elect for the first time a UKIP MP – Douglas Carswell, with a huge majority of 12,000 votes. UKIP made enormous strides in the safe Labour seat of Heywood & Middleton as well, reducing the Labour majority from 5,971 to 617. This rise in the ‘acceptable’ far right should be a cause of concern not just to the Tories but also to us. It is clear from these results there is no […]

    Read more →
  • Comment We must tackle Ukip’s emotional appeal

    We must tackle Ukip’s emotional appeal

    The result in Heywood and Middleton may have shocked some people, but not all. Some warned this could happen after UKIP took or seriously challenged safe council seats in the north, topped the national vote at the Euros, and polled strongly in Labour areas. Their highest average share of the vote in the 2014 elections came in Labour areas like Rotherham, Mansfield and Hartlepool. We’re told if we campaign on the “issues” people will come back to Labour. This fails […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Young Labour voted against supporting the free education demo, but the debate on tuition fees has been reopened

    Young Labour voted against supporting the free education demo, but the debate on tuition fees has been reopened

    Last night Young Labour voted on whether or not to come out in support of the free education demonstration set to take place on the 19th November. Reports suggest, they voted against the motion. This result could easily be interpreted as another sign that the argument against tuition fees is dead in the water. In reality, it tells us that opposite is true. The very fact that this was a topic for discussion at Young Labour’s national committee, that there […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The scandal of the care workers who don’t receive the minimum wage

    The scandal of the care workers who don’t receive the minimum wage

    There’s been a great deal of focus on the Minimum Wage recently. Labour pledged an £8 an hour minimum by 2020 (only to get into a war of words with Alan Milburn about whether this was enough). Meanwhile at Tory conference, the odious Lord Freud was questioning whether or not disabled people are “worth” the minimum wage at all – and whether some should work for £2 an hour instead. Understandably, the Labour Party rushed to defend the principle of […]

    Read more →
7ads6x98y