SNP Education Secretary Michael Russell today (Wednesday) issued a ‘University Challenge’ to Labour to commit to laying out in full their proposals to make graduates pay for their university education in their election manifesto as he pledged that SNP proposals will be published ahead of the Scottish election.

Speaking the day before he publishes a Green Paper on the future of Higher Education, Mr Russell said:
“Our Green Paper will lay out all options – except tuition fees – for the future of Scotland’s universities. It is a comprehensive survey of every serious idea for Higher Education in Scotland.

“Over the next few weeks everyone will have a chance to study these ideas and make their views known. At the end of that process, at the election, Scotland will be faced with a decision: how can we ensure our universities remains nationally and internationally competitive?

“I can today make a simple pledge to the voters of Scotland: the SNP will bring forward comprehensive proposals for the future of our universities ahead of the Scottish election. We will put these proposals before the people and make them a central part of our manifesto.

“And I am today issuing a challenge to Labour. Match our pledge to put your proposals to the people.

“Labour are on record saying that they want to see graduates charged for the cost of their education and we all remember their disgraceful tuition fees betrayal after the 1997 election. No mention was made in their manifesto of their plans to charge students tuition fees.

“Once the Green Paper is published, there will be no hiding place for Labour and the other parties. They must meet the University Challenge and make this election a battle of ideas. They must make clear who will pay and how much they will pay under their plans. The question for Labour is do they have the courage to lay their plans before the people?”