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Graduates in Scotland set to avoid endowment fund
Monday, 11 June 2007
The newly-elected Scottish National Party is expected to make one of its first major policy announcements to the Scottish Executive later his week, in a move that will have serious financial implications on all graduates in Scotland.
As opposed to the top-up fee system introduced across the rest of the UK at the start of the 2006 academic year, graduates in Scotland have instead continued to make extra payment contributions through one-off graduate endowment payments of £2,200.
The endowment fees raise around £25 million a year to help provide bursaries for poorer students, but Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop is now expected to announce plans to scrap these charges in favour of earning revenue to fund higher education from elsewhere in the Scottish budget.
Although the news has been welcomed as positive for graduates in Scotland, leading education experts have warned that the SNP must ensure that sufficient funding is being provided for all aspects for higher education funding in the country.
Dr Brian Lang, principal of St Andrews University, told the Herald newspaper: "The SNP is addressing only one aspect of higher education funding. We now look to them to apply the same energy to the critical need to support the research base of Scotland's universities to ensure we remain internationally competitive."
James Alexander, the president of the National Union of Students in Scotland, welcomed the news but added that "we must make sure that the funding is there".
Further SNP plans to replace the current student loan system with a grants-based scheme are unlikely to also be announced now, amid SNP fears that these proposals would not gain a house majority.