Fiona Hyslop to close tuition fee loophole

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Fiona Hyslop, has put in place measures to prevent post-graduate students having to repay university fees while they are studying.

Ms Hyslop, who led the abolition of the graduate endowment earlier this year acted after it was revealed Labour's original legislation had failed to give post-graduate students the legal right to defer their payments.

Ms Hyslop said;

"A critical issue has emerged in the past week or so relating to the previous practice of allowing students to take out a loan to settle their deferred graduate endowment fees.

"During detailed examination of the rules, we have found that a previous agreement for payment by this group of students of the fee by loan is not supported by the relevant regulations - The Graduate Endowment (Scotland) Regulations 2007 - laid on March 6, 2007 by the previous administration.

"This has created a challenging but important issue for us to address and we have been working urgently to find a solution. By introducing these regulations into the Parliament on Friday these students will be able to pay the fee through the student loans system.

"Ministers are also taking the decision today not to request repayment of any deferred graduate endowment fee until the students concerned complete their studies.

"By moving swiftly on this issue, the Scottish Government is ensuring that Parliament can agree these regulations by the last day of the current session on June 27, with them coming into force on June 30.

"For students who have already paid the fee but who are still continuing their studies we are currently exploring what options are open to us to put them back in their original position. We will be writing to all students concerned next week with an update."

Following Ms Hyslop's announcement SNP MSP Aileen Campbell welcomed the news and condemned Labour's crocodile tears after they tried to keep the tuition fee in place.

Aileen Campbell said;

“Fiona Hyslop’s quick action to prevent post-graduate students having to repay the graduate endowment tuition fee will be well received by students.

“It is unfortunate that Labour failed to put in place proper protection for post graduate students when they introduced the graduate endowment.

“Instead of a legal right to defer – students were dependent on the goodwill of the Student Awards Agency.

“The SNP has taken action to put this right and protect those students who could, because of Labour’s legislative failures, have faced immediate payment of this tuition fee.

“Labour’s hypocrisy on this issue knows no bounds, not only did Labour introduce the Graduate Endowment – they voted against students and tried to stop the SNP abolishing this backdoor tuition fee. The SNP has restored the age old Scottish principle of free education – but it’s no thanks to Labour.”

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