Scottish Labour will end dropping out at 16. We will make leaving school before age 18 conditional on a young person staying meaningfully engaged in higher or further education, skills training, work or volunteering. ‘Doing nothing’ will not be an option for 16 and 17 year olds.
We will significantly expand the number of opportunities available to 16 and 17 year olds in order that every youngster has an array of opportunities available to them:
FIRST CLASS COLLEGES AND WORLD CLASS UNIVERSITIES
While Scottish Labour has been investing in Scotland’s colleges and universities other countries are doing the same. We cannot stand still or Scotland will fall behind. We must invest in high skills because Scotland has no future as a low skill economy.
Our ambition is to lead the world in new industries and technologies, with highly skilled jobs. We want our young people to be brimming with the confidence and skills to compete in an increasingly competitive world throughout their lives.
We have already seen real progress. The proportion of the workforce with degrees has risen from 14% in 1997 to 23%.
Scottish Labour is committed to raising that figure to 50% by 2020.
Scottish Labour has increased funding for universities, including a 400% increase in their capital budgets to modernise buildings and equipment, and we will continue to invest to keep our universities world class and internationally competitive.
For the first time in nearly a decade, Scottish Labour will raise the cap on student numbers in Scottish higher education.
We will work with university principals to ensure that a fair proportion of students from Scottish schools can access these new places and that there is a significant increase in the numbers of young Scots studying science and technology at undergraduate and post graduate level.
Scottish Labour will also ensure increased funding brings a further widening of access to higher education and we will make widening access to higher education a central part of our education programme in the next parliament.
We will create new university schools, twinning our universities with secondary schools in our most deprived areas to raise the aspirations of our brightest children no matter what their background.
Scottish Labour will not introduce top up tuition fees. Labour remains committed to the graduate endowment as a means of financing young people from the poorest families to study in higher education.
To continue to help students meet the day to day costs of studying in higher education, Scottish Labour will raise the amount of the student loan available to each student. We will build upon the introduction of student bursary grants and educational maintenance allowances to support those whose financial position might discourage them from continuing in education. Scottish Labour is committed to helping Scottish universities find new and alternative revenue streams including business and alumni.