SNP grants not loans


The SNP calls come on the eve of the April 1st deadline when
students will have to start paying a £2,000 Graduate Charge on top of
their debts from Student Loans.

It is estimated that 34% of those who graduated in 1997 still cannot afford to start repaying their loans.

Recently the Chancellor of the University of Dundee and Scotland's only
living Nobel Prize Winner, Sir James Black, raised his concerns over
student debts and the damage that is doing to the Scottish education
system.

Fiona Hyslop MSP said:

"Labour has let down
Scotland's education system and our students. It is incredible that
more than one in three of those who graduated the year Labour came to
power still cannot afford to even start paying back their student
loans. Coupled with the increase in bankruptcies among graduates it is
clear that the student loans system has been a disaster for Scotland.

"The Student Loans system is a costly drag on the economy. Graduates
from our Universities are among the brightest and best contributing
enormously to the economic and social lifeblood of the country. We
should be encouraging people to go to University not putting them off.

"That is why the SNP would introduce a Student Maintenance Grant.
People should have access to a University education based on merit
rather than ability to pay. On 1 April the Government will be adding to
this mounting debt problem with a further £2,000 Graduate Charge. That
is unacceptable. There is a straight choice between a fair and
equitable system of maintenance grants or more crippling debt for
graduates."

Dundee East Parliamentary candidate, Stewart Hosie said:

"Dundee has benefited enormously from the Colleges and Universities
here and the great contribution made by graduates to the life of the
city. We should be encouraging more students to come to Dundee and
other Scottish Colleges and Universities rather than discouraging them.

"Last year it cost Scotland £26 million to service student debt. That
money would have been better spent helping our students and the
Scottish economy. That waste holds our economy and graduates back.

"It is ridiculous that Labour and the Liberals have kept up this failed
Tory policy. It is time to scrap this failed system and bring back
grants."

Dundee West Parliamentary candidate, Joe Fitzpatrick said:

"Dundee University's Chancellor, and Scotland's only living Nobel
Laureate, has it spot on. Sir James Black said that if we want
university graduates we should be prepared to help them. It is
university graduates who become teachers, doctors, solicitors and so
on, and they repay society many times over for that initial investment.

"The £2,000 Charge added to the debts which start getting repaid on
April 1st is no April Fool's joke. Graduates already carry a heavy
burden of debt from their student days, and this makes it even worse.
The fact that the Scottish Executive is refusing to publish its
research into student poverty and graduate debt while Lib Dem Minister
Jim Wallace is trying to introduce top-up fees in Scotland makes you
wonder what their intentions are and how bad the situation really is.

"It looks to me to be a straight choice now - carry on letting the debt
rack up under Labour and the Lib Dems or get back to sense with the SNP
and student grants. The answer seems simple - it has to be Grants not
Loans."

Note:

The Graduate Endowment has been added to
Student Loans debt for the first time. Graduates will be liable to
start re-paying that debt on 1 April. This adds £2,000 onto the debt of
every student.

A Barclays Bank survey estimated the average debt
of graduates was at £12,000 and it was estimated that this would rise
to £34,000 by the end of the decade. The average debt was £2,000 in
1994.

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