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Thursday 13th December 2012 | 11:43
SNP press release
Over 50,000 fewer people across the UK started higher education courses this autumn than did so last year, except in Scotland where university uptake is up, highlighting the benefit of free access to higher education.
In England - where fees have trebled to £9,000 a year - a drastic drop in people taking places occurred, with a 6.6 per cent fall, meanwhile the number of people in Scotland is up 0.3%.
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, a member of the Education and Culture Committee, said:
"These figures represent an endorsement for the SNP's policy of free access to higher education in Scotland but reveal a bleak picture in England.
"It shows that Scotland is delivering far more successful policies and outcomes with the degree of independence that we already have in the Scottish Parliament - and with the full powers of an independent Scotland we could do the same in all the areas currently reserved to Westminster, such as macroeconomic policy, welfare and defence.
"A 6.6% drop shows just how much damage the UK government's socially exclusive policy is doing south of the border.
"With the average debt being kept down - and the Scottish Government delivering the best funding package in the UK, with a minimum income guarantee of £7,250 for students from the poorest backgrounds from next year - Scotland is the best place in the UK to be a university student.
"It is clearer than ever that sky-high tuition fees are fundamentally wrong. Instead of continuing down this path, Westminster must follow Scotland's lead and restore the principle of education based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.
"That is the right way forward and these latest uptake figures should act as a wakeup call to Westminster politicians who must now realise the folly of what they are doing."