Issues guide: Education and universities

Holyrood is responsible for overseeing and funding the education system in Scotland, including nurseries/childcare, primary and secondary schools and colleges and universities.

Scotland has its own Scottish Qualifications Authority to deal with the school exam system. Here, BBC news online Scotland outlines the education policies of the SNP, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens.

Election issues 2011

Education and universities

Scottish National Party



Liberal Democrats


  • No university fees for Scottish students studying in Scotland, requiring additional funding of £93m a year.
  • Cut by half, or 60,000, the number of pupils taught in the worst the number of pupils in "crumbling" schools.
  • £10m to provide 50,000 college bursaries a year for the next five years.
  • New generation of national qualifications.
  • Continue drive to cut class sizes, especially in P1-P3.
  • Expand pre-school support and create a new Sure Start Fund to improve life-chances for young Scots.
  • No up-front or back-end tuition fees for Scottish students.
  • Specialised training for up to 1,000 teachers, to boost literacy and numeracy standards.
  • Scrap Scottish Futures Trust and explore all funding options to improve school buildings.
  • Every school to develop discipline code to tackle bullying and indiscipline, with records on incidents to be shared with parents.
  • Give every young person right to quality training, stay in school or to go into further education until they are 18, by 2015.
  • Musical instrument fund for schools.
  • Introduce variable university graduate fee, capped at £4,000 annually with the expectation of an average charge of £3,600.
  • Increased financial support for the poorest students.
  • Reduce school leaving age to 14, provided pupils sign up to a monitored apprenticeship or a full-time vocational or technical training course.
  • Give headteachers more power to run their own school
  • Allow educational charities, philanthropists, not-for-profit trusts and parents to set up new schools.
  • Pilot "second chance centres" pupils persistently excluded from school and whose disruptive behaviour is preventing others from learning.
  • Keep university education free, with no tuition fees and no graduate contribution.
  • £250m early intervention revolution fund to invest in early years.
  • Provide opportunity for youngsters to attend college to do a course of their choice from the age of 14.
  • £250m match funding to boost science facilities.
  • Establish flexible Scottish degree, with standard three year degree in many areas.
  • Introduce pupil premium for looked-after children, starting as soon as they come into care and ensure looked-after children at secondary school have access to a mentor.
  • No fees for Scottish university students studying at home.
  • Allow young people to study flexibly alongside work if they wish, with support to put their own small business ideas into practice.
  • Give councils the "resources they need" to keep local nurseries and schools open and class sizes down.
  • Free nursery education for children from age of three.
  • Support home schooling.
  • Reverse revenue cuts to further and higher education budgets.

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