Scotland politics

Scottish Lib Dems renew no tuition fees pledge

Graduation ceremony
Image caption The NUS has welcomed the Scottish Lib Dems' pledge

Scottish Liberal Democrats have stated that they will not be joining their Westminster colleagues in moving towards support for tuition fees.

The stance of the Scottish Lib Dems was outlined by MSP Liam McArthur who wrote an online article for the National Union of Students (NUS) website.

Student leaders have welcomed the renewed pledge.

The UK Lib Dems have come under fire for supporting fees as part of the UK government coalition.

In his online piece, Mr McArthur said: "Society benefits when education is offered on the principle of ability to learn. We are committed, therefore, to free higher education in Scotland. We are committed to reducing student indebtedness."

Mr McArthur said that by "standing up for students, we are standing up for a strong economy which draws from a broad and talented skills base".

He added: "If we are serious about getting the economy back on track then we must recognise that education is pivotal to that journey.

"Working constructively with NUS Scotland we will continue to stand up for Scottish students, providing a voice for them in the Scottish Parliament and beyond."

Robin Parker, NUS Scotland president, welcomed the Lib Dems' statement.

He added: "Ruling out fees at the Scottish election was the right choice then, and it remains the right choice now, ensuring we have a truly open higher education system which is never based on your background or bank balance."

Speaking before the UK Lib Dem party conference in Brighton last month, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was sorry that his party broke its promise, made before the 2010 general election, to vote against increasing fees for students.

But although Mr Clegg said he was sorry, it was not for the increase in tuition fees itself. Instead, he was sorry the Lib Dems ever opposed the increase because they had not costed the policy properly.

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