‘The right to education should not be determined by economic background’: SNP backs abolition of graduation fees

SNP members have called for an end to all graduation fees at Scottish universities and colleges

  • Motion supporting abolition of graduation fees and the provision of financial support for graduating students passed by acclaim at SNP’s Aberdeen conference
  • Motion follows series of successful student-led campaigns that have seen graduation fees scrapped at Glasgow, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Robert Gordon, Edinburgh Napier and Stirling
  • NUS Scotland research has shown Scottish students can pay as much as £225 in order to graduate
  • NUS Students deputy leader Abby Hastings: “Graduation should not come with a price tag”

THE SNP has voted in favour on a motion at their party conference in Aberdeen today [15 October] calling on Scotland’s higher and further education institutions to abolish all compulsory fees for graduating students.

The motion, proposed by SNP Students, welcomes the recent decision by the University of Glasgow and several other Scottish institutions to scrap fees previously charged to all graduates, and calls upon all of Scotland’s colleges and universities to follow suit and ensure that “financial support is available to students to ensure that all can achieve graduation regardless of personal financial situations.”

According to the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland, many Scottish students are paying up to £225 to take part in their graduation ceremonies, while others are charged simply for graduating.

In late 2018, NUS Scotland published data obtained via Freedom of Information requests which showed that specific graduation fees are charged by 70 per cent of Scottish universities and 16 per cent of colleges.

“The fact that some students are paying up to £225 to simply attend their graduation is a slap in the face.” SNP Students deputy leader Abby Hastings

Additionally, many universities and colleges require all library fines are paid in full before graduation can take place, as well as requiring that students purchase or rent the robes required for the ceremony, with some institutions taking commissions on these hires. Even prior to these and other expenses, some students are required to spend £70 just to get a seat in the hall for graduation.

Since these revelations, a series of successful student-led campaigns have seen graduation fees scrapped at Glasgow, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Robert Gordon, Edinburgh Napier and Stirling universities.

Addressing SNP delegates today, SNP Students deputy leader Abby Hastings said: “The fight for truly free higher education is not yet won, and while graduation fees exist, the cost to graduate is too much for some students with disadvantaged economic backgrounds, and they are being further exploited by universities.

“For students, graduation is often the highlight of the academic year, if not their academic life. The fact that some students are paying up to £225 to simply attend their graduation is a slap in the face. £225 is over one month of the Students Awards Agency for Scotland’s highest bracket.

READ MORE: Liam McCabe: Graduation fees are a stealth tax on students - time to scrap them

“Graduation should not be a privilege. Graduation should not come with a price tag.”

Responding to the motion, SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “The SNP is, and will always remain, the party of free education.

“A student’s graduation is one of the most important days of their life as they rightly celebrate years of hard work – this shouldn’t come at a cost.

“Students in Scotland should never be constrained by personal finances - it’s time for all of our universities and colleges to get rid of these fees once and for all.”

Also commenting, NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe said: “We’re delighted that SNP members are calling time on graduation fees, recognising the unfair costs of graduation for Scotland’s students.

“Working in partnership with NUS Scotland, student associations and the institutions, we can ensure that graduation is the big pay-off for students, not the great pay out.”

Picture courtesy of This is Edinburgh

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