It’s brilliant news that more young people in Scotland than ever before are now getting the opportunity to go to our world-class university.
New figures from UCAS – the body that organises applications for people who want to go to uni – show that the number of Scottish students getting a place at a Scottish university is at an all-time high of 27,830.
Crucially, in the last two years alone the number of young people from disadvantaged areas going to university has risen by 20 per cent, to record levels.
These figures show that the Scottish Government’s drive to widen access to higher education is working.
— The SNP (@theSNP) August 12, 2017
As an SNP MP it won’t surprise anyone that I feel passionate about widening access to education.
Wherever you come from, whatever your background or your family income, I believe strongly that if you have the ability to study you then should get the opportunity to go to university.
Getting into university should be about your ability to learn, not about how much you can afford to pay.
That’s why I’m always proud that the SNP abolished university tuition fees in Scotland.
It’s shameful that the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems all broke their promises on tuition fees, and are now forcing students in England to pay through the roof, with fees of up to £9,250 per year.
It cannot be right that, according to the charity ‘Sutton Trust’, students in England are starting their working lives burdened with the highest levels of student debt in the English-speaking world, with each student owing an average of £44,000 in debt before they’ve even begun their careers.
Can you imagine?
For as long as the SNP are in government, Scottish students will never face these awful tuition fees, and improving access to education and driving up standards will always be a priority.
University can be a life-changing experience, providing the opportunities to learn, develop, gain experience, leading to the hope of a job at the end of it – with Scottish university graduates now the best paid in the UK, with the lowest levels of student debt.
Higher education can boost social mobility, providing a route to success for young people, whatever their background, and giving those from the most disadvantaged communities a ladder out of the poverty cycle.
— The SNP (@theSNP) August 10, 2017
But of course getting a degree is not the only path to success.
One of the best things I’ve seen was the #NoWrongPath social media campaign – reminding us all that success comes in many forms.
People from across different industries and life experiences have shared their stories of getting to where they are now – from business leaders, to journalists, politicians, artists, and many others.
Among the stories shared were people who didn’t get the exam results they wanted at school, many who didn’t go to university or who dropped out for different reasons, but who have worked hard and found other paths to success in the jobs they wanted.
There’s a really important message there for people – especially young people facing all these choices. We all face barriers and problems.
Sometimes we fail and sometimes we need to choose our own path. But keep at it, and have faith in yourself. You never know where you might end up!
This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.