Graduate debt levels in Scotland are the lowest in the UK, a report has found.

The report, by The 2012 UK Graduate Careers Survey, cited one of the reasons for this finding was the fact that Scottish and non-Scottish domiciled undergraduates in Scotland do not pay tuition fees.

It also said that the gap would widen as Scottish and UK Governments pursue different paths with students in England to be inflicted with back-door tuition fees of up to £9000 and the SNP Government to work towards a minimum income guarantee - a move strongly supported by the NUS - of £7000 in Scotland.

With Labour’s leader in Scotland Johann Lamont appearing to abandon her party's commitment to free education - despite an image of her appearing beside an article decrying tuition fees on Labour’s website - the SNP are the only major Party in Scotland who can ensure that access to education remains based on ability to learn, and not ability to pay.

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said:

"The SNP will never price Scottish young people out of an education. We are the only party never to have voted for tuition fees, and as Alex Salmond has said, the rocks will melt with the sun before we do so.

"Education should be based on the ability to learn - not on the ability to pay - and the policies being pursued elsewhere in the UK will be a disaster in the long run.

"Thank goodness that decisions about Higher Education are already taken in Scotland, where our proud tradition of free education has been protected by the SNP.

"There is still more to do - and I am pleased that the SNP Government is taking forward proposals for a minimum income guarantee for students of £7000, to support them through their studies.

Mr MacDonald addressed the Labour website gaffe, saying:

"As Labour’s own website shows, Johann Lamont was elected on a promise of no up-front or back-end tuition fees for Scottish students. After explicitly ruling out a price tag for access to education, this is Johann Lamont’s Nick Clegg moment.

"Just as Nick Clegg flipped on his party's pledge to oppose tuition fee increases as he led the LibDems into coalition with the Tories, we are witnessing Johann Lamont do exactly the same.

"Ordinary Labour members and voters must be bewildered at this turn of events and wondering why their party has abandoned so many of its core principles, including deserting their commitment to free higher education in Scotland."

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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