A new European Commission report has revealed that England is home to the highest student fees in Europe, in contrast to Scotland where the principle of free education puts us firmly in the mainstream of Europe.
Eight other countries from across Europe do not charge fees in most cases, putting Scotland alongside places like Austria, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Recent figures from UCAS showed markedly different application trends in Scotland where numbers were being maintained compared to the sharp falls that have taken place south of the border thanks to tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.
Commenting, SNP Education Spokesperson for Education within Falkirk Council, Cllr Gordon Hughes said:
“This report demonstrates that Scotland is within the mainstream of European thinking on education while the UK Government is so far out of step with their system of sky-high tuition fees south of the border.
“With Labour now advocating a return of Tuition Fees it is only the SNP who are upholding the traditional Scottish values of education being a right rather than privilege as well as an investment for the nation.
The contrast between Scotland, where the principle of free education puts us firmly at the heart of Europe, and England, which is home to the highest fees in Europe, could not be clearer.
“With students being asked to pay more to go to University than anywhere else on the continent, it is no wonder that recent figures showed applications south of the border plummeting.
“That is the likely outcome in Scotland if the Independence Referendum in 2014 is won by those who want to see Scotland governed from Westminster.
“This would be particularly bad for local pupils from poorer backgrounds as the philosophy of the Westminster parties is education is for those who can pay.
“It is an essential part of ensuring we have the skills necessary to prosper as a nation and is a critical part of economic recovery.
“Scotland’s independent education system puts us at the heart of Europe, instead of the periphery where we would be if the Westminster government was in charge.
“With the powers of an independent Scotland, we would be also able to take up a similar position in the mainstream of Europe on a host of other issues.”
Notes: Details of the different approaches to student fees can be seen at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/12/947&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en