Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Graduate Endowment No More!

Great news!

Today in the Scottish Parliament, Fiona Hyslop announced that the SNP Government is scrapping the £2,000 Graduate Endowment. This is a major first step in reducing the burden of debt on Scotland's students and graduates.

The Graduate Endowment was introduced by the previous Labour-Lib Dem Executive, as part of a deal to pull the wool over the eyes of Scotland's students who were told that tuition fees had been scrapped. In reality, they were just re-branded as the Graduate Endowment and the demand for payment was moved from the start of a course to after graduation.

The SNP believes that access to university should be based on your ability to learn, not your ability to pay. Saddling students with mountains of debt is in no one's interests - not the students, their parents, the taxpayer, our economy and our society.

Today, the SNP Government has taken an important first step in reducing the scandal of student debt in this country. It was most unfortunate to see that the Labour Party could only whinge about this in Parliament today. At least the Lib Dems appear to have seen the error of their ways on this issue, and back the SNP's policy to scrap the Graduate Endowment.

I look forward to the Government bringing forward more proposals to help reduce student debt in the future. Taken together, the SNP's manifesto package of proposals for students will restore fairness to the system of higher education funding and reintroduce the concept of free education.


Anonymous said...

Access to university isn't based on ability to pay. You can access university even if you have no money.

Claiming otherwise might make a good slogan but it's a dishonest one.

Julie Hepburn said...

Firstly, just because somebody holds a different opinion to you doesn't mean they are dishonest.

While students have to pay fees for their university courses - either up front or at the end of their course, then access to university is indeed based on ability to pay. Students have been expected to saddle themselves with unacceptable levels of debt to get through university courses. Part-time work just isn't enough for most students to avoid debt if they don't have a significant level of financial support from their parents.

Finally, many people can indeed gain initial ACCESS to university courses with no money up front, but many find they can't afford to finish their degree because of financial pressures.

Personally, I don't think this is good for the individual people concerned or our society - to have potential unfulfilled.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong - the slogan is dishonest. I make no comment on the person who came out with the dishonest slogan. That's for others to judge.

The graduate endowment is a special kind of debt that doesn't need paid back unless you can afford it.

Applications to university haven't been impacted by changes to funding or the graduate endowment, suggesting that the graduate endowment hasn't put anyone off going to university - unsurprising since potential students ain't stupid and see it's not a problem.

Financial pressures during university are totally irrelevant to the issue of the graduate endowment, since it's not payable until after university, and then only when income is above a particular level.

Since there's been no measurable negative impact as a result of the graduate endowment, I fail to see where this (cue violins) 'unfulfilled potential' resides.

Julie Hepburn said...

Well anonymous, at least I have the honesty to put a name to my opinions ;o)

I doubt we will agree on this one, but I will try to answer the points you raise.

Firstly, you don't have to be earning all that much before you have to pay back the Graduate Endowment - which is why so many people take the option to add it on to their other loans to pay it back over a longer time. So I don't believe it is affordable.

Secondly, before I went to university I knew I would most likely get into debt during my degree. Although I understood that at the time, there was little I could do about it if I wanted to go to university. Plus, it is one thing to know you are getting into debt, but the reality of paying it back post-graduation is quite another. So many students might not see it as a problem when they are applying to university, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a problem.

I must also differ in opinion about the impact of debt on people not being able to complete their studies. I know of quite a few people who dropped out of university because they were both struggling financially at the time and accumulating levels of debt that they found unsustainable. The overall burden of debt (of which the Graduate Endowment has been a part) does indeed have a negative impact in this regard.

Finally, I would never use violins to reinforce a point. I'm far too understated for that.

To clarify, I'm not saying that abolishing the Graduate Endowment alone will solve the problem of student debt - merely pointing out that it will help.

Anonymous said...

Off topic a bit--but why do you recommend some blogs that are now defunct?

Julie Hepburn said...

Apologies - must tidy up my list! In a couple of cases, I was optimistically hoping that some may resume their blogging. But I have waited long enough, and will remove those who are now silent.

Anonymous said...

Gosh- you do rant on a bit don't you?

Julie Hepburn said...

Sometimes. My blog = my rants. :o)

Anonymous said...

tee hee!