I had the privilege of receiving a university education and it’s one of the reasons why I am able to be in the position I am today, seeking re-election as First Minister. Dodgy hairstyles and questionable fashion choices aside, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.
Having benefitted from a free education, I have no right to pull up the ladder of opportunity for the next generation of young people. That’s why if I am re-elected as First Minister, and for as long as I have the honour of holding that office, I will not impose university tuition fees on Scottish students.
But I want to go further still. In the next parliament, we will take action to ensure that by 2030, at least 20 per cent of university entrants come from the 20 per cent most deprived communities. I am also proud that we will guarantee a place at university and a full bursary for every care experienced young person who meet the minimum entry requirements.
I want every young person to reach their full potential. That’s why we’ll will also continue to maintain full-time college places and will protect the Educational Maintenance Allowance for nearly 60,000 school and college students. And we’ll increase the number of Modern Apprentices to 30,000 every year by 2020.
The SNP understands the importance and value of a good education, here’s what education has meant to some other SNP candidates.
John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and candidate for Perthshire North:
"I had the benefit of an excellent school education and the advantage of a free higher education. I want to make sure every young person secures the education they require."
Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning and candidate for Almond Valley:
“My education has given me choices and opportunities, is the reason my working life has been different to my mother's and had enabled me to plough my own furrow in life.”
Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages and candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar:
“Education gives people choices in life and allows them to reach their full potential. I enjoyed being a student and made sure I was one for some time.”
Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People and candidate for Clydesdale:
“My wee rural school nestled in Perthshire's Sidlaw Hills might've been small in size but our inspirational teachers made us dream big and aim high. Mrs Cummings and Mrs Stewart instilled in each of us a sense of confidence, curiosity and wonderment about the world around us. They laid strong foundations for all the children in their care giving each of us our chance to flourish.”
Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health and candidate for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth:
“I believe it is so important to ensure that more people are able to reach their potential through educational attainment by expanding early years childcare, a well-supported school system, targeted support to reduce the attainment gap and the continuance of free higher education in Scotland.”
Jenny Gilruth, candidate for Mid-Fife and Glenrothes:
“As a former Modern Studies teacher I am proud of our record on votes for 16 and 17 year olds. We've given a voice to the next generation, allowing them their say in how Scotland is run.”
Christina McKelvie, candidate for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse:
“The photo is my graduation from Anniesland College when I achieved an HNC in social care. If I did not have access to these types of professional courses I would not have been able to advance my career and become a social care training officer. I also would not have had such a fulfilling and interesting 19 year career in social care.”