The SNP would promote higher and further education by abolishing tuition fees and replacing the student loans system with means tested grants as part of measures to widen access to higher education. An extra £10 million a year would be spent on cutting-edge research, the creation of a Scottish life sciences institute would be supported, and further education would focus on imparting students with marketable skills.
Access to education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.
An SNP government will abolish the Graduate Endowment tuition fee and replace the expensive and discredited Student Loans system with means-tested student grants. We will remove the burden of debt repayments owed by Scottish domiciled and resident graduates. We will promote widening access to Higher and Further education in Scotland encouraging and creating opportunities for people who may not have been able to access continuing education previously.
We will review the situation of part-time and post-graduate students and support efforts to attract more international students.
We recognise the key role colleges play in the economy and in their communities and will help them develop this role as part of a revitalised life-long learning agenda. Our universities compete on a global basis in research and development, and we need to provide more government support for them to continue to do so as a key driver in Scotland’s economic and enterprise agenda. That is why we will allocate an additional £10 million to support cutting edge research in Scotland.
We will also support the creation of a Scottish Life Sciences Institute. We believe such an Institute could play an important role in retaining and attracting the best scientists to Scotland and would act as a magnet for excellence in this important area of scientific research.
A skilled workforce
By getting it right in schools and other educational institutions we can ensure that more people have the qualities and skills that employers are looking for. That means we can save a great deal of time and money on remedial action in the post-school environment.
We will aim to ensure that people of all ages can access relevant, valued and quality assured training opportunities throughout their working lives to keep pace with the rapidly changing demands of the global economy. We will work with employers to help them with the practical support they need to tackle skills shortages and work with national agencies, training agencies, the voluntary sector and local community enterprises to promote activities which help increase the employability of individuals.
We will focus our skills strategy on real, marketable skills and ensure that the strategy is demand-led. We will review the modern apprenticeships programme to make sure that the skills being taught match skills gaps and that the system is flexible enough to encourage the maximum participation. In particular, we will aim to increase the number of small businesses taking part. In the long term, we will seek to relax the age restrictions on modern apprenticeships so that older workers can benefit from the programme too.