Free education maintains university applications

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central Marco Biagi has welcomed figures released today which show that applications to Scottish universities have remained steady, while applications in England and Wales have plummeted.

The UCAS statistics show that applications to Scottish universities have risen by 0.2 per cent overall. The numbers of students applying to study at English and Welsh institutions, however, have fallen by 8.5 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The number of Scottish students applying to study in Scotland has held firm, dropping by only 1.1 per cent (427 applications), meaning that Universities should be on track to maintain the total number of accepted applications from Scotland in the coming year. Although the number of students from England applying to study in Scotland has fallen (-5.6 per cent), it has done so at a lesser rate than English students applying to study in England (-9.9 per cent).

Commenting, Mr Biagi, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee, said:

“These figures are a clear vindication of the SNP government’s determination to ensure that university education remains free for Scottish students. While sky-high tuition fees are obviously deterring significant numbers of prospective students from applying to universities south of the border, in tuition fee-free Scotland – even in the present very difficult economic circumstances - young people who want to study still feel able to do so.

“This is obviously very good news for our university sector, which is being protected from falling student numbers, in contrast to their English and Welsh counterparts.

“More importantly, young people in Scotland can still apply to study at a Scottish university in the confidence that it is only their ability to learn and not their ability to pay that matters. Free university education ensures that our young people are still able to access opportunities for education, and that Scotland will continue to have the supply of skilled graduates that is vital for economic recovery.

“Meanwhile, students in England and Wales have been betrayed over tuition fees, first by Labour and then by the Liberal Democrats, and are now being priced out of a university education by fees of £9,000.
“The principles of higher education in Scotland will remain the same under the SNP: protecting the outstanding reputation of Scotland's university sector and ensuring access to education for young people from across Scottish society, regardless of their ability to pay.”

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