We remain absolutely committed to the principle that access to education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. Scotland is the only country in the UK that offers free university education, saving Scottish students studying in Scotland up to £27,000.
As long as the SNP are in government there will not be tuition fees in Scotland.
This has helped in the drive to widen access – which now sees record numbers of students from the poorest background attend university. In the next Parliament, we will widen access further, implementing the recommendations of the Commissioner for Widening Access.
As part of this goal, we will undertake a review into the funding provision for postgraduate students.
As a result of Covid-19, the Scottish Government announced £75 million funding to protect world-leading university research and early access to £11.4 million of Higher Education Hardship Funds.
To tackle digital exclusion, the Scottish Government has created a new £5 million fund that will help colleges and universities provide additional support for Scotland’s most disadvantaged students including providing the digital devices they need to access learning.
Due to Brexit, the UK will no longer take part in the Europe-wide Erasmus exchange programme. The Erasmus exchange programme has helped transform the lives of thousands of our students, schoolchildren, teachers, adult learners and young people, from all across the UK.
We remain committed to Erasmus, and will continue to advocate for Scotland’s inclusion in the programme. Until then, we will create a Scottish programme of exchange to provide mobility and cooperation opportunities in higher education, vocational education and training, school education (including early childhood education and care), adult education, youth and sport.
We will produce a new International Education Strategy that will promote education alliances with other countries across Europe and the world.
We commissioned a Scottish Funding Council review into how best to achieve coherence and sustainability in the delivery of further and higher education. We await the next stage of the review and will respond to the report to ensure that our further and higher education sector is robust for the future.