The Scottish Government could be forced to reduce the number of Scottish domiciled students entitled to free university tuition due to budget constraints, experts have warned.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party abolished tuition fees for Scottish students shortly after it came to power in 2007.
But the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the devolved government’s budget situation, which has seen £1.2 billion of savings made in the 2022/23 financial year, could force them to rethink the ‘sacred cow’ policy.
Finance Secretary John Swinney announced a further £615 million of savings earlier this month, on top of £560m of cuts announced in September.
David Phillips, head of devolved and local government finance at the IFS, said: “Are there certain bits of the public sector where you say ‘actually we spend less here’?
“In Scotland, there are many areas where spending is slightly more generous than the rest of the UK. That isn’t because the Scottish Government is more efficient at spending money, it’s because it gets more per person to spend.”
Pointing to policies such as higher education, he continued: “If they [the Scottish Government] need to make further cuts, they may need to start looking at some of these sacred cows and see whether they are affordable.
“I think the Scottish Government would be reluctant to do that because it sees these things as kind of like selling points to the Scottish electorate about what we can do to be an independent country.”
What’s your view on this? Do you think that slashing free university tuition for Scots should be considered? Share your view in the comments.
Mr Philips pointed out the Scottish Government would have to consider this decision especially if SNP ministers wanted to focus on prioritising spending to reduce child poverty.
The SNP-led administration has statutory targets to significantly reduce four key indicators of child poverty by 2023/24 and then again by 2030/31.
He continued: “The main beneficiaries of free higher education aren’t low income people in poverty, not many go on to higher education.”
It comes after a think tank linked to former Labour first minister Lord McConnell called for the end of free university education for all.
Deja un comentario